Fancy a new hobby for the winter ?
I'll explain later.
This is Aster novi belgii Marie Ballard, purchased two years ago from Hayloft Plants. It is a hardy perennial, and was bred sixty years ago by Ernest Ballard, a plant breeder from Colwall, Herefordshire. Although it was not released for sale until 1955. My plant flowered last year, but didn't put on much of a show. So this year is its first proper display. I'm really impressed with it.
Following my disasters with the 'squirrel-proof' bird feeders, I decided to treat myself, or should I say the birds, to a new feeder. It's not squirrel proof, but then neither were the others. I just liked the look of it.
Now, about that new hobby. Do you fancy watching shrubs ? I know, it sounds a bit like watching paint dry, but you don't have to actually sit and watch them. I mean, they don't do much, do they ?
The BTO have organised a Birds and Garden Berries survey to find out which birds eat garden berries throughout the winter. All it involves, is selecting different shrubs carrying berries, and checking them once a week to see how many berries remain. You don't have to count exactly how many berries there are, just a rough idea. Taking photos of the plants every week would be an easy solution. You also need to observe which birds are removing the berries.
The purpose of the survey is to find out which plants are the most popular with the birds, and what type of birds are attracted to the berries. What a pity those finches were eating the cotoneaster berries last week, the survey didn't start until yesterday.