I live by St Bartholomew-the-Great church which was founded in 1123 by Rahere – a monk who was formerly a courtier and jester to Henry I. In the garden of the church is a 100-year-old mulberry tree which has become beautifully crooked and gnarled with time. The tree is near the site of a medieval Mulberry garden which was cut down in 1846.
This relatively new tree could have been planted by Fanny Wilkinson, according to a website called Morus Londinum which tracks London’s mulberry tree heritage. Fanny was Britain’s first celebrated landscape gardener and was working at the end of the 19th century when there was a fad for planting black Mulberry trees across the capital.
This tree is a favourite with birds. When I cycle past every morning it is one of the only places in London where I hear bird song. It also cradles a bird’s nest in its upper branches – I believe it is a blackbird’s nest as I have seen a few lingering around.
In a bid to tempt the mulberry inhabitants up to my balcony I have brought coconut halves with lard in from Vine Farm (if you subscribe the the Wildlife Trust you get a 10% discount). I initially put out three coconut halves and within a few days one of them has had a good deal of pecking. I’ve seen a female blackbird near the feeder but not yet caught her in the act. Apparently urban blackbirds often head out of city gardens in autumn to take advantage of the berry bounty in the countryside. A few days ago I saw three blackbirds altogether on the balcony so maybe they’ve decided to come back to London now. I’m hoping these nibbles will entice more birds to come and hang out.
Tweet pictures of your winter bird sightings with #rewildinglondon and do remember to leave food out for them. Different birds like different sustenance so have a look online before you make a decision.