self-catering holiday cottage, holiday rental near Alton Towers and Peak District

Self-catering near Alton Towers and Peak District - Call Barks Holiday Cottage 01538 703436 email barks@btconnect.com or book online.

Friday

Feeding the birds

I just tripped over an initiative of the RSPB encouraging us to feed the birds in our gardens - National Feed the Birds day 25th October.

We have regular woodpecker families who love the peanut feeder which we keep topped all year round. They are top of the pecking order to all the tits and nuthatches. Our resident crows, nicknamed Square and Squawk, seem to do OK foraging in the compost heap. The kestrel sits on the phone wire and dives into the field if it spots something moving. The buzzards screech overhead, and have a favourite perch in a nearby oak tree, but they do fine for food without our help. I could do without the magpies attacking our bin bags on collection day (we are too off the beaten track for the Wheelie Bin dustcart to visit). It is the resident robin that I would like to do more for, and have just saved our sunflower heads for winter.

I regularly see birdwatchers in the village so we must be doing something right! Suppost I ought to thrust our Staffordshire Moorlands holiday cottage info at the next birdwatching group so that they can catch the dawn chorus . . .

anyway, here are the RSPB's tips on what to feed garden birds:

GOOD kitchen scraps:

  • Uncooked porridge oats
  • Cake crumbs
  • Potatoes – baked, roast and even mashed
  • Grated cheese
  • Windfall, soft or over-ripe fruits

BAD for birds:

  • Bread – it has very low nutritional content and is essentially a filler
  • Salted foods such as bacon or peanuts (Barks does unsalted nuts only!)
  • Polyunsaturated fats or vegetable oils – these can smear birds’ feathers making them less waterproof
  • Milk – birds’ stomachs are not designed to digest milk
  • Desiccated coconut – this may swell up inside a bird causing it to die.

Locally-reared meat

It is normally so quiet that a clattering in the field caught my attention. I peered out of the window and saw local farmer, Chris, bolting the tailgate on his trailer and a small flock of very nervous sheep sizing up their new environment, our fields. Black ones this time.

The summer residents have moved on: the ewes to a different pasture and the grown lambs have gone 'to market'. This is clearly a euphemism for the fact that they have now entered our food chain. They had a great life in our fields graduating from skipping, suckling lambs to enormous great brutes that enjoyed a stand-off with our terrier. I hope Chris fetched a good price for them this year.

We are lucky in this part of the country that we have local abattoirs that supply local independent butchers. I am not sure that enough local consumers really appreciate our local supply chain, with the lowest food miles possible.

'Foodies' and cooks wanting local meat, or any local or organic produce are encouraged to discuss requirements with us. To really enjoy every aspect that the Staffordshire Moorlands has to offer, you need to include its produce.