Sunday, 27 January 2008

The Big Garden Bird Watch

Part of the Starling flock.

This is what the RSPB says:

The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world's biggest bird survey.

Thanks to its simplicity and the small time it takes to do, the Big Garden Birdwatch has always had great support, providing us with a vital snapshot of the UK's birds each winter.

In 2007, over 400,000 people took part by counting the birds in their garden for an hour. Together they spotted 6 million birds across 236,000 gardens, helping reveal the winners and losers in the garden bird world.

Over the past three decades participants have made a significant contribution to monitoring garden bird numbers and helped highlight that some garden birds are in need of help.

The survey has recorded the huge declines in some of our most familiar birds. Since 1979, the number of house sparrows counted has fallen by 52% and the number of starlings by 76%.

However, it isn't all bad news - chaffinchs and great tits have both seen their numbers increase since 1979 by 36 and 52 per cent respectively.

Our scientists can then use these patterns in bird numbers to help prioritise our bird conservation work.
I was reminded to do mine by my grandson Jack. We've just set up "Skype" so we can talk to each other face to face via the computer and he called to tell me his results. I decided todo it with my camera in hand, but failed to picture everything. Normally there are a lot of House Sparrows in one part of the garden, but today I only saw five during my one hour survey.

There were two Blackbirds coming down to food just outside the window. This might be the male I pictured yesterday. I only saw one Robin, and he was singing, but refused a full frontal shot. There was also a Wren, which I saw and then heard singing, but itdidn't pose.

Dunnocks were well in evidence, with four, one again in song.

Two Jackdaws dropped in for a couple of minutes, but the two Carrion Crows that came in to the trees flew off as soon as I raised my camera. There was also one Magpie around.
Blue-tits are just about ever present in the garden and there were two around the feeders.
They were joined by a pair of their larger relatives, the Great-tit.
Feral Pigeons are something that I don't really want in the garden, but if you put out food they are sure to find it. They are the domesticated descendants of the Rock Dove, which is now only found in the UK in very remote places such as Fair Isle in the Shetlands.

Two species of wild pigeons did put in an appearance, two Woodpigeons and a Collared Dove.
Both these species are doing pretty well.
As well as the flock of Starlings, part of which is in the top picture, there were a good number that came down to feed and drink. In total I county 53. Just two Goldfinches joined the party.

As usual the finch numbers were maintained by Chaffinches, 15, mainly feeding on the ground, although they do have a go on the feeders, but seldom stay there long.

And Greenfinches with 12. Again these numbers are far lower than in previous years.
One Great Spotted Woodpecker played hide and seek amongst the branches, but did come down to feed on the peanuts for a short while.

Outside the garden, so not in the survey I could hear a Song Thrush singing, again a relatively early date.

In addition to the birds I also saw two Bumblebees, which I think were Buff-tailed Bumblebees (Bombus trrestris) My book says they are frequently seen in February so these are running just a little early.

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