When it comes to having a good wash and scrub up, my garden is currently the place to be. Take a look at this:
If you can make it out, it is a Blue Tit getting itself in a right lather. See how it tosses its head about violently in order to create as much splash as possible. Oh, how it rekindles happy memories of bath-time as a kid.
The bedraggled result was this:
It's a wonder their feathers ever get back into order.
And it's not just the Blue Tits; the Robins have been having a good long soak too:
...as have the Blackbirds
Perhaps you can work out what the 'spa of choice' in these parts. Yes, this year's deluxe model is an old, upturned dustbin lid, propped up on a few bricks, and with some pebbles and a perching rock inside so the bathers don't slip about.
It may be cheap but it fulfils all the golden rules of birdbaths: wide, shallow, slightly elevated and good visibility.
It's clearly so good that I've started using it myself; photos of that next week...(not!).
Although the BBC will turn their attention to Chelsea next week (the Flower Show, not the football team) in a blaze of publicity and celebrities, our hard-working Events Team of staff and volunteers have been at it again in their secret bunker in Bedfordshire, pulling together their feature garden ready for Gardeners World Live.
This annual giant of a show is at the NEC, Birmingham, from 11-14 June, and I know many of you like to pop in to say hello and have a chat on the RSPB stand, so here is a little taster of what April and the team have been preparing.
Now I have to explain here that the team likes to tantalise me so I'm only fed snippets of what they're up to. I'm told that this year's garden, which is always one of the largest in the indoor arena, will feature everything including the kitchen sink. Literally!
Yes, apparently it takes the idea of giving nature a home and applies it to a house...
...with a wardrobe bug hotel (ah, so that explains the photo below) and bath-tub pond dipping,
There will be lots of recyclables in a kitchen (which I think is what is coming together in the next photo, but you can make up your own mind!). And I'm promised there will be plants galore.
Gardeners World Live presents us with a great opportunity for getting out that message to a large audience that everyone can do something to give nature a home. Hopefully, by putting in this effort each year in such creative ways, more and more people will feel inspired to give nature a home.
If you've never been, Gardeners World Live is a great day out, packed with inspiration, plant shopping and, as we've now seen, something you've probably never seen before courtesy of the RSPB!
A few weeks ago I was delighted to meet up with the Henry Johnson from the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species, who has the fantastic job title of Hedgehog Officer as well as being upliftingly enthusiastic.
He helps run a project called Hedgehog Street, which is a simple campaign focusing to get people to pledge to cut holes in their fences to allow Hedgehogs to wander between gardens. In the box-like world of our gardens, having runways at ground level is essential if hedgehogs are to find enough food and find a mate without having to become pole-vaulters along the way.
I'm a big fan of working collaboratively on projects for the greater good of wildlife, so I'm very happy to give the scheme a plug and get you all making pledges to add to Hedgehog Street. Here's your link to all the information you need.
Great, too, to hear about all the things that Henry is doing in his own urban garden from our list of things we'd like people to do to give nature a home. Here are Henry's house sparrow boxes:
And here the start of his pond (I want to see the finished photos, Henry!)
I do believe that great things can be achieved when we all pull together!