ON THE WING with Gary Atkins

How often do you feel you’ve been feeding the local squirrels rather than the birds? Getting hold of ‘squirrel-proof’ feeders can be quite tricky – and I’ve had to come up with quite a few innovative ways of trying to keep our twitchy-tailed friends away from the nuts and bird seed.

Worse still, have you (like me earlier this week) inadvertently provided the neighbourhood cats with a victim? They take advantage of garden birds by stealthily creeping up on them as they tucking into your seed and fat ball bonanza, then take a plunge at the nearest pre-occupied sparrow or a young naive blackbird.

I guess the cats are simply doing what comes naturally to a hunter – so maybe it’s our fault! But what galls me is that should they actually catch a bird (with their bellies still full of whatever their owners have fed them that morning), they either leave it where it perishes or proudly drop it on the kitchen floor of their less-than-grateful owners.

Such wonton violence explains why I could recently have been spotted dashing down the garden – bare-foot and still in my pyjamas – to see off an all-too-familiar black-and-white moggy that had just come close to slaying two blackbirds born and raised in my garden. My, how you’d have laughed at the sight of that madman!

My conclusion? A little bit of careful thought should go into positioning your feeders to make sure it’s actually the birds that get fed.