Some SWIFT thinking has helped to reduce spillage from seed feeders

The weekend turned out to be typically autumnal, with heavy showers and sunny spells – not bad enough to keep me indoors when the trees are at their glorious best.

I decided to have a walk round Selkirk’s Haining estate but despite not wearing the most appropriate footwear, I was still able to take in the beautiful autumn colours on the way round the loch.

The great crested grebes which nested there earlier in the year were still there but reduced in number. I saw just one adult and two of the original three juveniles, but that is not to say the others perished. Although newly-hatched young will often be fed by one parent while resting on the other’s back, a feature of later parenting is not teamwork but ‘brood-splitting’, in which each parent takes sole custody of its allotted part of the brood, ignoring the others, so the others could still be around.

I have started to step up my feeding regime in the garden for the birds. I usually restrict them to one peanut feeder during the summer, just to keep them coming to the garden, but now I start to reintroduce the fat balls, half coconuts and various seed dispensers. One problem I have had is the mess caused by spillage from seed feeders. This year I decided to put on my thinking cap and try and reduce the problem, so I have invented the ‘Seed Waste Inhibitor For Tits and Sparrows’ or SWIFTS for short!

I started with my plastic feeder with Perspex sides and access holes at the bottom, three short pieces of thin wire and a large stainless steel dog’s dish. I made three evenly spaced holes round the rim of the dish and several in the bottom to allow water to drain away. I made three small holes in the base of the feeder then linked them to the holes in the dish with about six inches of wire, so that the dish could hang level under the feeder. The whole job took about 20 minutes.