You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
Blogger: Erica Auger, Communications Manager
For me, Christmas time seems to revolve around one rather important thing. Food! It is at the heart of our family get togethers, it’s what my friends and I gossip over and we do tend to overindulge a little tiny bit! It’s almost the complete opposite for our feathered friends and garden wildlife who need all the help they can get to stay full up this winter time. We can do all kinds of tings to help them out in this department and we can make good use of our excesses by throwing some of our leftovers out for the birds in our garden. Here are some great things that you can re-use and re-fuel your blue tits, green finches, blackbirds, robins and many more:
Christmas cake crumbs, mince pie pastry crumbs and biscuit crumbs , mild grated cheese, cooked or uncooked rice, breakfast cereals, cooked potatoes and fruit will all provide vital energy. The wildlife equivalent of Quality Street! There are also lots of great bird food options available to buy, such as table mix, niger seed and sunflower hearts.
There is one thing however that is not so good for our feathered friends and leaving it out for them is highly dangerous. Cooked turkey fat is extremely dangerous to birds, but many people wrongly believe that it is as beneficial as other fats like lard and suet. The truth is that cooked turkey fat is dangerous for birds for several reasons. It remains soft even when cooled, meaning it could smear onto birds’ feathers and ruin their water-proofing and insulating qualities.
Birds need clean, dry feathers to survive the cold and a layer of grease would make this virtually impossible. The fat in roasting tins cannot be separated from other leftover elements like meat juices. This concoction can go rancid very quickly, especially if left in a warm kitchen for a while before being put outside, and form an ideal breeding ground for salmonella and other food poisoning bacteria. Birds, much like us are also prone to bacterial infections at this time of year as their defenses are low and their energy levels depleted with the cold. Most people, including me, also add other ingredients to a joint of meat before roasting including rubbing it liberally with salt in order to crisp the skin. However, high levels of salt are toxic to garden birds and can have damaging effects. The cooking juices from all other meats as well as turkey are equally as unsuitable for feeding to garden birds, so it’s best to steer clear completely.
But the question then remains – what should you do with your cooked meat fat?
The best way to dispose of meat fat is to leave it to cool down and put it in the bin, not pour it down the sink, a message echoed by the water companies. Ciaran Nelson, a spokesperson for Anglian Water, said: “It’s simple - if you pour fat down the drain, you risk flooding your home and garden with sewage, not to mention the threat of damaging pollution leaking into the countryside. “Cooking fats, oils and greases washed down the plughole are responsible for thousands of avoidable sewer blockages each year. The problem gets significantly worse at Christmas. “Warm fats slide down the sink easily but turn into rock-hard, foul smelling ‘fatbergs’ when they cool. They bind with things like wipes, nappies and sanitary products, which also shouldn’t be flushed into the sewers. These fatbergs block sewers causing them to back up and overflow. “Blockages like this are horrible at any time of year, but the extra cost and hassle is especially unwelcome during the holidays. It doesn’t make for a very merry Christmas.” For more information about how to give nature a home in your outside space visit rspb.org.uk/advice