Autumn has suddenly taken over and there are early signs of what might be a hard winter. The dog-rose hips are especially good this year and the ivy is literally heaving under the weight of millions of tiny flowers, promising a feast of berries to come.
The Cotoneaster and Pyracantha are laden with berries so there should be no shortage of food for the birds this winter although I will still put food out every day as usual. In the adjoining hedgerows, the towering Hawthorn and Blackthorn were finally cut back hard in January after many years of neglect so the crop of fruit is not quite as good as it could have been but is still a useful food source for the many pigeons and blackbirds perching precariously on the waving branches.
If we get another hard winter the garden may attract some unusual visitors again like the Fieldfare and Redwing, the shy Great Spotted Woodpecker and that rarest of them all, the Waxwing. We had them all in the winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11 when food became scarce or hidden under snow. It is said that we might have lost 20% of our small garden birds due to the harsh weather conditions so I feel it is our duty to do as much as possible to help see them through by growing berried shrubs and hedges and putting out high energy, good quality seeds and nuts and fresh water every day but particularly in bad weather.