Ep.5 Bird Watching
In this latest episode of The Wildlife Community podcast, we talk to Dan Rouse - a famed ornithologist, wildlife presenter and author. We encouraged her away from the South Wales Coast, and her binoculars, to talk to us all about how to attract birds to our own gardens. In doing so, we learn the secrets of her daily wildlife-friendly gardening routine, what she's noticed most about lockdown and birdlife in Wales, and how and why she's helping farmers to encourage owls onto their farmland.
Dan Rouse is the author of How to Attract Birds to Your Garden and a regular on Welsh TV and radio, famed for her knowledge of bird watching.
“The Gower is my home, it’s where I love because you can walk between every single beach. So, if we are having a long day out, we’ll pack our lunches, take the scope, take the binoculars and we’ll head round and completely bird the whole area.” Although she has noticed a few changes since the Pandemic and some of them are having a detrimental effect on birdlife there, “there’s so many BBQs being left on the beach…we are seeing loads of masks caught around birds’ throats, masks caught around birds, we’re having dolphin strandings. People are not quite picking up after themselves.”
She’s also urging visitors to the south Wales coast to stick to paths, “When there are paths, there’s a reason they are there. Especially if tiny birds like reed warblers or chiff chaffs which nest in the smallest of places. Red shank will just find a clump of grass and lay an egg in that!"
Dan’s top tips for attracting birds to your garden
Dan has noticed quite a number of interesting species visiting her garden recently, including rose-coloured starling, yellow-browned warbler, goldfinch, chaffinch, and nuthatches.
She says it's a mistake to assume you can’t have a wildlife garden if you also want an ornamental entertaining garden. And in fact, the two can live together in one space. You can still have space for bird feeders, for pots filled with wildlife-friendly plants and flowers, she says: “even just putting in an apple tree - it’s a food source for birds that also grows nice and pretty in the summer and in the winter you get apples as well so it’s a nice compromise.”
Dan's daily routine for garden birds:
- Brush off the droppings from each of your bird feeders every day, and then once a week give each feeder a thorough clean with hot soapy water.
- Top up each of your feeders with bird seed every day. Small amounts of food more often, is better than larger amounts left for several days.
- Change your feed depending on the time of year. Offer more fatty food during the winter, or add in raisins to bird seed mixes. In the springtime, add extra protein and very small bits of food for fledglings.
- Clean up clumps of seed which have landed on the floor
- Top up the bird baths with fresh water, and clear out any leaves or debris that’s fallen inside.
How to Attract Birds to Your Garden, the book
Dan’s book is full of even more practical tips and tricks to encourage more feathered friends into your garden and signed copies are available to buy from our website. “I wanted this book to be the inside of my brain! So everything I do, I have tried to make it as simple as possible – so that you haven’t got to overthink things. I have tried to match up what food goes with what feeder so that you don’t get clumps stuck in the bottom. And also which feeders are good for each bird species as well.”
Find out more about Dan Rouse
To find out more about the conservation work Dan mentions on the podcast, you can visit the Facebook page of Naturiol Cymru here. Or to find out more about Tadorna Tours, Dan's company - the profits of which go towards funding her conservation work, click here.