Gardd Fotaneg Genedlaethol CymruNational Botanic Garden of WalesNational Botanic Garden of Wales
Garden blogs

Feathered Friends


Although I do like the snow by the time it went I was fed up with it.  When we went to the National Botanic Garden of Wales this week it was blowing a gale and sheets of rain were blowing across the Garden and soaking anyone who was unfortunate enough to be out in it.  Luckily I had some jobs to do inside so the only time I was out in it was to come and go to the car.  Having said that, I did go to the Great Glass House at lunch time so that I could eat lunch with my husband.

I thought I would take the opportunity to take some photos of the birds.  As often happens things didn’t quite go to plan because there was a class of noisy five year olds having their lunch and the birds seemed reluctant to come down where we were sitting.    I’m not sure whether it was the noise from the children or it may have been that the pickings were richer under the tables where the children were eating.  I am a big fan of the birds but I was particularly interested to get some pictures of them because some of them have been ringed.  An MSc student from Aberystwyth University is carrying out a project to find out if the birds in the Great Glass House are evolving differently from the birds outside. (It’s more technical than that but I think that’s basically it – apologies if it isn’t).  Most of the birds are sparrows, but I have seen chaffinches and robins and last week there was a wren in there, but we don’t know if they live in the Great Glass House or if, like the rest of us, they’re just visitors.

So as I said some of the birds have been ringed and, before anyone starts thinking that you can’t just catch birds and ring them, this has been carried out in conjunction with The British Trust for Ornithology, so it’s all above board and official.  The rings are colour coded so, in theory, we should be able to identify individual birds by the colours of their rings.

A nice little terrace of desirable residences (nest boxes if you’d rather) have been located in the newly planted Canary Islands zone.  I don’t think it was replanted specifically for the birds but it is very attractive nevertheless, so perhaps Mr and Mrs Sparrow would like to take a holiday home in the Canary Islands.  There’s inbuilt CCTV as well, so if they do deign to nest in there we will be able to see how they are getting on.  There’s a screen at the end of the concourse near the nest boxes.

So next time you are visiting the Garden do go and have a look to see whether the birds have chosen to nest in our ‘des res’ or perhaps see if you can spot the rings on their legs.

Pam Murden


  • Dawn

    I also, visited the great glass house when the weather was bad, by the time we got there we were very wet and a bit battered by the wind. I had two young children with me, the opportunity to give the children some time,in a garden setting without the terrible weather was most enjoyable. We too are fasinated by the birds and inspite of the very noisy two year olds, we had a good collection feeding birds on our, dropped crumbs. We took lots of photographs and the children were very happily entertained for more than an hour with just the birds. So I think that you were just unlucky on your visit and the school children almost certainly had the birds.
    I am a new member at the gardens and already think you can’t get better value for your money. Myself and the children will be very regular visitors no matter what the weather does.