I AM STILL having fun with my old frying pan. Two years ago it lost its non-stick and looked prettier outside the kitchen window than doing nothing on the shelf.
How the birds love its shallow depth and rim to perch upon. Down they go as if on hinges and pulled by strings.
This January I have had the usual flocks of finches from afar. I know that both redpolls and siskins breed in Sussex but I have been getting flocks of a hundred up in the tops of the trees, swirling about in the westerly winds like leaves.
In this week’s photograph I snapped through the window is a goldfinch with six redpolls. They return several times to drink, when I can see how tiny the redpolls are, much smaller than goldfinches and half the size of a greenfinch. You can see two of the birds are showing their forked tails which easily distinguish them from such tinies as blue tits when viewed as silhouettes.
The siskins have displayed bright emerald feathers and the cock birds quite black crowns as well, together with that black crown of the male and a much brighter wing-bar than redpolls ever show.
Anyone with a downland home like mine can attract woodland birds from a wide area because there is often no water to drink except in wet weather.
I noticed this week pheasants drinking out in the woods from the puddle in a piece of litter somebody threw over the fence from the bridleway. So I have placed another couple of old plastic trays that once held supermarket meat into the leaf mould so that shy denizens can enjoy a drink if I am away.
Another photo I took last autumn was of eleven blue tits tumbling about together in the frying pan. They were splashing and turning upside down, somersaulting and fighting while a chiffchaff and a blackcap warbler were having a shower outside.
Then along came a blackbird and stopped the fun.
One day I had eight bullfinches around the frying pan – a record number here in one group. I think they were two families with their children that bred in the garden, which is wild and has blackthorn bushes and a yew tree both of which they favour as habitat.
Bullfinches are becoming far less common these days and need dense bushes and a lot of weed seeds to feed on. So far I have counted twenty species drinking and bathing in the frying pan. They include wood pigeon, nuthatch, marsh tit, and french partridge.
The best sight every evening is a family of long-tailed tits which come to bathe. They curl their long tails over their heads and splash each other like naughty children.
I seem to get more enjoyment from this frying pan than ever I did at the kitchen table when it was used for cooking.