CHILDREN’S author Susan Ferguson has spent years observing the birds in her back garden, and recently they became the central characters in her debut storybook Bedtime Tales from the Rook’s Nest.

Secluded in woodland off a main road in Corbridge, the grounds of Susan’s cottage provide a haven for birds, squirrels, hedgehogs and even the occasional deer.

“I’ve tried to make the garden a space for all wildlife,” she said. “Seeds are always out for the birds, nuts are left for the squirrels, and lavender is planted for the bees. It’s a whole other world out there in the woodland, and its fascinating to observe the animals go about their daily life.”

From her kitchen window – which has the best view of the woodland garden – Susan has witnessed new births, budding romances and even the occasional scuffle, some of which is featured in the five individual stories which make up Bedtime Tales from the Rook’s Nest.

At the centre of all the stories is main characters Mammy and Daddy Rook, who recount their adventures of life beyond the nest to their babies Percy and Peggy, while they get tucked in for bed.

“The story The Strange Nest is based around the pair of finches in the garden who had chosen to nest in a extraordinarily narrow plant pot by my front door, which meant he had a hard time having to squeeze himself out after hatching,” said Susan.

“Another tale, The Silly Pheasant, is inspired by a pheasant who made its way into the garden, and became obsessed with his own reflection in the driveway mirror, thinking it was another bird.

“The stories are through the eyes of the birds rather than myself, which I decided would be more pleasing and exciting for little minds and eyes. But I do make the occasionally appearance in the book as the kind lady who lives in the cottage under the rook’s nest, I wasn’t being left out totally.”

Another character who makes an appearance in Bedtime Tales from the Rook’s Nest is Carrot Top the horse, who was inspired by the horse which resides in the fields behind Susan’s house called Buster.

The main inspiration for the book however is Susan’s grandson Theo, who Bedtime Tales from the Rook’s Nest is devoted to.

“I wanted to leave something behind for him, for when I’m not around anymore,” said Susan. “It’s something which he can always treasure, and remember me by.”

During the months of writing, editing and finally publishing through North-East indepedent publishing house Sixth Element, Susan kept her endeavours secret from her entire family, in order to surprise them with a copy of Bedtime Tales from the Rook’s Nest on Christmas day.

“The first thing my son said to me when he unwrapped the book was ‘it’s about time you put those stories to use’,” she said. “I’ve got a lot more stories to tell, so I’ve already started penning out a future book inspired by the garden, this time from the point of view of the squirrels.”

Bedtime Tales from the Rook’s Nest can be ordered from Sixth Element publishers on from February 5.