Posted in Crafts, Environment, Gardens, Nature

The RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch and making a bird feeder

Photo by Pixabay on

The Big Garden Birdwatch is on this weekend in Britain and nature lovers are being invited to watch our feathered friends for an hour, count the numbers of each species and then tell the RSPB our results. The bird watch can be in your garden, but if you don’t have one, the local park or other green space will suffice. I’m not a big ‘twitcher’ but I do like watching birds going about their business.

I have a regular robin visitor who seems to follow me around, looking for mealworms and sunflower seeds. Recently I have even seen two robins in my garden. Robins are not great fans of robins so I assume they are a pair or maybe relatives – a mother and daughter or father and son, perhaps?

Last weekend I enjoyed a close-up view of a bullfinch eating seeds in Simon’s Lincolnshire garden. I hadn’t realised how colourful bullfinches were. The below photo wasn’t taken by me but it illustrates how vivid Simon’s visitor was in its colouring.

Photo by Pixabay on

If you’re not in the UK, maybe you could do your own informal bird watch? For more info on the birdwatch and the RSPB, visit

And if you want to attract birds to your garden, here’s an idea for a recycled bird feeder…

First, we need an empty plastic milk bottle, two branches, an empty tray – in this case it’s a plastic one, two pieces of twine or string, a scoring tool and a pen knife.

The items needed to make a bird feeder
Pictures courtesy of Simon Hunter
Milk bottle and tools Picture courtesy of Simon Hunter

Score or cut four holes into the milk bottle and slide in the branches – this is for wild birds to stand on while feeding. Cut two holes near the top and slide the twine in as seen below. This is to hang up the bottle in your garden. Cut holes above the branches as an opening so the birds can access and eat the seeds.

Then fill the bottle with bird seed. The seed will scatter onto the tray rather than the ground, providing less opportunity for rats. Once the feeder is finished, the same thing can be done again meaning it will be more hygienic, especially when there are cases of bird flu in the area.

Looking at the size and shape of a bird’s bill provides a good clue to its diet. Starlings, blackbirds and gulls have ‘general purpose’ bills that enable them to take advantage of a wide variety of foods.

RSPB Birdfeeder Handbook, Robert Burton
Posted in Crafts

Getting crafty with knitting

A display at Masham Sheep Fair

Over the years, I have often thought about learning a new craft, usually after getting a sense of envy when I see others’ finished projects.

As a child I seemed to be more artistic and crafty than now as an adult. My parents had to put up with an art gallery of my works on the wall (thanks to children’s TV presenter Tony Hart for that idea!) Yet as an adult, my drawing skills are the same as when I was 9 years old. And my craft skills blatantly show off my lack of spatial awareness and coordination!

Once on holiday, there was an origami class. I started well with the paper folding but at some point (fairly early on) I got very confused and the paper just looked a terrible mess rather than the beautiful swan it was supposed to end up as. A willow weaving workshop was more of a success. I ended up with handmade willow bird feeders and coaster, but a small child still put me to shame with her skills and ease at a time when I was puzzling about what the next step in the process was.

Despite these experiences, I still had that yearning to craft, to make, to learn a new skill. Lockdown seemed a good point to start too. I didn’t wish the time away but a project to help pass it until things got back to normal felt a good idea.

I already had a knitting project waiting for me. When I visited Masham a few years ago, there was a sheep fair and I bought two knitting packs, one I gave to my goddaughter (a knitted toy sheep), the other I kept for a rainy day (fingerless gloves). Had the rainy day arrived?

Knitting kits

But when I read the instructions, it seemed double Dutch to me, a foreign language. So after a chat with my mum (an accomplished knitter herself), she gave me a small ball of wool, knitting needles, cast the first row, and showed me how to knit. I had learnt to knit as a child but all I had learnt had vanished from my brain so I needed this refresher and practice.

Up, through, over, under…. Something like that anyway. I lost stitches, holes were formed where they should not have been formed, the piece I was knitting for practice was looking more and more unshaped by the minute. I had to keep asking Mum for advice. My mum talked of purling, casting on and off… She went back to knitting a jumper via a complicated looking pattern which made my original glove project look like it was aimed for primary school children.

I got to the end of the ball. At which point, Mum took back a row of my piece and then cast off. I could have carried on and turned it into a scarf but this was my practising project. It now sits under a water jug in my living room.

My first knitting project

Now to my second project – a scarf. I still don’t know how to cast on or off or how to purl. But the actual act of knitting is becoming more and more natural to me. I may never become a wonderful knitter but it doesn’t matter. I enjoy it and I see what people mean when they say it’s highly relaxing. It makes me think of being mindful and ‘living in the moment’. And now back to the process – up, through, over….

I start my new scarf project