Bird seed cake for winter birds – but which ones?

January20

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This is the rich birdseed cake I put out before the snow came this week. It’s melted lard combined with pumpkin seeds, birdseed, sesame seeds, and some old sunflower hearts from the baking cupboard. I hung slabs of the fat cake in the tree next to the birdseed feeder which is frequented by blue tits and finches. I was eager to give these small birds a treat — especially the blue tits, which take care of my greenfly problem — but they don’t seem to like the cake. The starlings and blackbirds love it though…who knew?

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Stairway to slug heaven: a ladder dedicated to the frogs I love

March16

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Frogs climb. They’ve got the legs for it, and the powerful hunger on them as they emerge around now should motivate them to tackle our new addition: the stairway to slug heaven. I imagine hedgehogs and newts may also use this shallow set of creature-sized steps I made yesterday, using containers on the stairs that connect our two garden levels: the gravel path with mini pond below, and the borders and lawn up high.

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It had been bothering me that the frogs are more or less trapped in the lower level of the garden, while slugs and snails have the full run of the place. Then, last year, I realized that a ladder like this would work – I stuck any old pots and stones down the far side of the steps and a few days later I was so excited to spot frogs in the upper level. Now I’m doing a more aesthetic version: shallow hyacinth bowls filled with go-ahead-and-ignore-me sempervivums, sedums and pinks, along with a few traumatised crocus I dug up from the border. I intend to water semiannually – that’s my starting negotiating position, anyway. Behind and around the bowls are rounded stones to give creatures a leg up. At the top, the steps aren’t wide enough for bowls, so I used a few stones with pinks tucked in behind, and bits of old plastic flower pot lining the edges to protect the masonry. As cuttings those pinks thrived on nothing last year and are now strong little plants, so I’m pretty sure they won’t mind my minimalist watering schedule.

I’m not too sure why I have gone crazy for frogs – Two years ago I screamed on seeing a toad or frog in my outside space, but now I’m a changed person. Not only have I Click for larger image built them their own ladder, I’ve also filmed ten minutes of a frog fruitlessly stalking a slug, a video which I can still watch with great interest all the way through. I think I used to scream at them because I felt they were terrifying vermin invading my space. Now I see the garden as their space, and my job is to make them feel at home.

Anything special you’re doing for the creatures in your garden this year?

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