Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Big Garden Bird Watch 2013

Actually, it's not one of the garden robins - this one posed for me the last time I went to Abercastle, a few years ago.

The RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch is always on the last weekend of January, and every year I wonder about the timing of it.  The weather is invariably foul, and so birds are tempted into garden feeding stations and easy to count, at least.  This year's weather was relatively good here - sunny spells with a chilly wind driving  thundery showers of rain and hail. Rather bracing and conducive to sitting indoors with a cup of tea to do a bit of bird watching. I did two observation sessions, one each for the small garden at the back of my cottage and one watching next door's big bird table and surrounding shrubs. Here's the list of visitors with peak numbers, first for the cottage and then the farm house gardens:

Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus 6, 7
Great Tit Parus major 2, 2
Coal Tit Periparus ater 2, 1
House Sparrow Passer domesticus 2, 8
Dunnock Prunella modularis 1, 1
Robin Erithacus rubecula 1, 1
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs 1, 7
Magpie Pica pica 1, 1
Jay Garrulus glandarius 1, 0
Blackbird Turdus merula 0, 1
Nuthatch Sitta europaea 0, 1
Greater Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major 0, 1
Feral Pigeon Columba livia 2, 0

It's not a great list, but it is better than last year, which was hardly worth doing as the weather was so bad the birds scarcely made it to the feeders.

Of course, this doesn't include some of the regulars, as well as a number of residents who aren't generally interested in coming into the gardens (though I suppose that isn't the point of the survey). As a list, it doesn't seem to represent half the birds we see here. The RSPB aren't worried about this, considering that overall the observation data balances out.  I'm not convinced about this; all it would take is for a good number of people who might often see, for example, a Greenfinch, and then don't happen to see one while recording, and you could extrapolate from that data that numbers are falling.

I was pondering on all this while washing up on Saturday morning. Gazing out on the small back garden, I saw a peregrine falcon fly over.  There's a bird I haven't seen for a while. Shame it didn't count as a garden visitor for the list!

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