As part of our #FatTheFatberg campaign, we recommend you put your fats and cooking oil in a glass jar and bin it. But did you know you can use some fats to make fat balls for birds?
The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is happening from 26 th to 28 th January (this weekend) and I got a great fat ball recipe (thanks to the RSPB) your feathered friends will absolutely love!
I got a chance to interview Jamie Wvyer from RSPB, who provided some helpful tips on what sort of fats you should use and avoid.
Peta: Which fats are appropriate to use when making fat balls for birds?
Jamie: When you’re making fat balls for birds, what you need is fairly solid fats – suet and lard. The kind of thing in warmish weather will stay solid.
Peta: I understand there’s some fats people should avoid using because they are harmful to birds, which ones are they?
Jamie: That’s right, so when you use fat from cooking, the problem with that is - it’s runny and you got meat juices/blood blended into it. When you put it out in your garden it smears on birds’ feathers. And the reason that’s bad, it blocks their feathers from the ability to stay healthy, especially this time of year. It’s very hard for them to clean it off, keep warm and to keep their feathers waterproof.
Peta: What sort of nutritional benefits do fat balls have for birds and how does that contribute to their overall health?
Jamie: In winter they need to maintain their body temperature and building up a layer of fat is particularly a good idea for them. You will notice when you put a variety of food out for them all year around, the intake of fat is much greater in winter. They tend to eat a lot more fat when it’s cold.
Peta: What sort of fat ball add-ons are popular among birds?
Jamie: They tend to look for insect protein, I find breaking up pieces of meal worms is a good idea. But you can also seeds, if you got bits in your kitchen, there’s no harm in throwing in cheese, dry fruit is also a good option. But I must be clear you should avoid using dry fruit in the garden, if you got cats or dogs because it can be very bad for them.
Photo Credit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com) Peta: Could you clarify if peanut butter is ok to use? Or would you avoid any nut butters?
Jamie: It depends on the ingredients, you can use peanut butter, but I would look very carefully at the ingredients just in case there might be a chance it might smear on their feathers. The nuts are obviously the key parts; it’s probably much easier to just put nuts out in the garden. But again, look at the peanut butter ingredients; to see if it’s suitable for birds. It’s not something we would recommend, but there is some goodness there.
Peta: Can you tell me any special activities RSPB are planning for the Big Garden Birdwatch?
Jamie: Yes, well the Big Garden Birdwatch is a special activity in itself, this year in 2019; we’re celebrating 40 years of the Big Garden Birdwatch! It runs over three days, at the end of January. Anyone can take part in it, it’s free and it’s actually great fun as well. You can take part the 26 th to the 28 th of January; it involves sitting by your window, looking into your garden or heading to local green space. You keep a record of the highest number of species of birds you might see at any one time. If you have a robin popping in or two robins popping in later in the day, it would be the two robins you would count. And you send your details onto us of what you recorded and from there we can build up a big national picture of what birds are sparring across the country.
If you need want to venture outside your garden, why not check out our reservoirs and sites? If you're participating in the Big Garden Birdwatch, post your pictures in the comments below!
Photo credit: RSPB
Speedy Bird Cake recipe
Safe food for birds
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Fiona Price, Chief Executive Age UK Berkshire
If you've been paying attention to our Twitter timeline today, Thames Water and UKPN held a joint conference at Age UK London, where we got to showcase a variety of different ways we support our most vulnerable customers. Thames Water offers priority services to our vulnerable customers. I caught up with Fiona to talk about our partnership with Age UK Berkshire.
Peta: Can you take me back, how’d this partnership form between Age UK Berkshire and Thames Water?
Fiona: We were invited to go along and meet the Thames Water team following a discussion they had with our local voluntary sector organisational group- Reading Voluntary Action. They were keen to meet local charities that could support and spread the word about the priority services register. As they are a very local company to us we were keen to go along and chat about how we could work together.
Peta: What sort of positive benefits have you seen since partnering with Thames Water?
Fiona: We have seen several benefits; our knowledge and therefore the information that we pass onto the older people we support about the priority register has improved. We have also linked up as a 3 way partnership with SSEN to spread the word. Thames water have also been great at supporting some of the local events in the area like Reading Older persons day Event held in October every year.
Thames Water & UKPN Conference (Photo Credit: Age UK London)
Peta: Do you think more UK charities could benefit partnering up with their own local utility companies?
Fiona: Yes definitely! The benefit to our clients is great and we have also benefitted from joint marketing, social media and general awareness.
Peta: What sort of plans does Age UK Berkshire and Thames Water have in the pipeline for 2019?
Fiona: We plan to continue to work closely, encouraging more people to sign up to the priority register. Our ultimate aim is to have a seamless easy process so that when we speak to an older person in Berkshire and they give their permission to be on the priority register that we will be able to register them and the information through to Thames Water with a simple press of a button!
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I'm sure our engineers will appericate your kudos! this was a tough job, but they truly rock.
Like Steven said, putting oil down the sewer is incredibly irresponsible, it could've been catastrophic, but luckily our engineers spotted it.
If ever see anyone dumping oil down our sewers, be sure to call 0800 980 8800.
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We've launched an investigation after thick, black oil was poured into the sewers, clogging up a pumping station and polluting Bracknell sewage works.
Luckily there has been no impact on customers or the environment thanks to speed and vigilance of our engineers. Had the oil not been spotted quickly, it could have damaged vital equipment as well as creating a blockage in the sewers which would have had a devastating environmental impact.
The aftermath of black oil being dumped into our sewers
Steven Gerrard, who manages works, said: “Putting oil in the sewers is incredibly irresponsible and will take a lot of time and money to clean up. Luckily we have prevented it from having an impact on customers or the environment but the wider consequences could have been catastrophic. We would urge whoever is responsible to come forward so we can ensure this never happens again.”
Sadly this is not the first time oil has made its way into the network, however due to the large quantity it took a lot longer to clean up. For over a week, our workers has to painstakingly skim oil off the surface of the water at the treatment works until all the pollutant had been removed. If you ever seen oil float on top of water, it's quite nasty and difficult to clear.
If anyone in the community knows how the oil ended up in the sewers or have seen anything suspicious
please call 0800 980 8800.
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Definitely! This was the first time we tried it here on the community, while we're still building the community up, it's nice to know you found this helpful!
If you have any suggestions, please leave more comments.
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Thanks so much for your comment! Our community platform is a great way to keep our customers informed. It's important to be clear and concise when something as serious as a leak in our customers' area, with the community we can easily log information our customers need to know and show pictures too!
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Thanks for you suggestion, that's a really good idea! I will let the team know. We do raise awareness about it throughout the year.
It's also a part of our Winter Campaign. As I mentioned we will be doing more pieces around it on community.
If your mate needs any further assistance they can give our Priority Services team a call, 0800 009 3652 or email email@example.com
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