According to tradition, St Valentine’s is the day that birds choose their mates, so I’ve decided to show my feathery friends some love on their special day by making them some Valentine’s bird cakes.
I always make bird cakes for the birds in my garden using the RSPB’s guidelines for feeding garden birds (they have some helpful hints for an easy bird cake to make with children here) but have found that smaller birds are getting pushed out by the larger ground feeding birds who’ve managed to monopolize the bird table so wanted to make something the little birds could snack on that the big birds couldn’t reach. These hanging love heart fat balls (nice!) couldn’t be easier.
- Melt lard in a pan and stir in birdseed, oats and cheese.
- Press into moulds and pour a little melted lard on top to help them keep their shape before poking a plastic drinking straw through any you plan to hang.
- Using the drinking straw to guide you, push some twine through the fat ball and tie securely when the fat has set.
- String from a convenient tree and sit back and watch your birds, remembering to change the food frequently to prevent it going bad.
Book cover is based on Audubon images which are referred to throughout the novel
Gerald is pigeon-toed, with an aquiline nose and crow’s feet around his hooded brown eyes- a caricature of an ornithologist. He even picks at his food.
Snapper by Brian Kimberling
As much as I love birds and wildlife spotting, I hadn’t expected to really enjoy a book about a professional twitcher, but Snapper by Brian Kimberling is so much more than that and I found myself really warming to the story of Nathan Lochmueller and his upbringing in Southern Indiana.
The beauty of Kimberling’s writing lies in his compelling characterisation; an uncle unwittingly wandering into a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan, a fundamentalist Christian who runs the sleaziest burger bar in the South, and truckers who write letters for Santa. The characters are weirdly recognisable, for all the improbable circumstance, and they are constructed with real warmth and affection.
If you’re looking for a fast paced, plot driven read, then this probably isn’t going to be your cup of tea, but if you’re on the lookout for new writing talent with dark humour and a gift for language then this is definitely worth a read. Oh and watch out for the vignette that gives the book its name… brilliant.