Monday, 27 January 2014

Great Garden Birdwatch 2014

Greater Spotted Woodpecker (
Another year, another Great Garden Birdwatch, organised by the RSPB. The idea of this is that it is an exercise in mass phenology and by thousands of people counting bird species in their gardens each year, it builds up a picture of what’s happening across time and across the UK.
The birdwatch surveys have illustrated the decline in songbirds and starlings and also threats to once-common birds such as house sparrows, which have reduced dramatically in number in the past decade.
I did my survey yesterday. It was a miserable wet morning, but the birds were very active and I saw 35 birds compared with 23 last year. The idea is that you count the maximum number of each species that are in your garden at any one time within the hour being monitored.
One bird, which we spotted last year, but was absent this time, was a tree creeper. Last year, it was a regular visitor on the conifers, but we haven’t seen it since spring. However, there were some new appearances – a greater spotted woodpecker, which has been a regular visitor to the garden to feed on peanuts – and a couple of goldfinches. The woodpecker  arrived after 15 minutes and spent a good five minutes pecking away before flying up into my sister’s pear tree where he clung on pecking in the ivy, obviously after dessert.
The goldfinches are the most colourful of garden birds and seem to love the winter mix that I’m buying from the pet shop in Whittlesey.
So these are the birds (and numbers) I saw this year. Last year’s figures are in brackets:
Greater Spotted Woodpecker 1 (0)
Blue Tit 4 (2)
Great Tit 3 (2)
Collared Dove 2 (1)
Blackbird 5 (3)
House Sparrow 8 (6)
Robin 1 (2)
Chaffinch 4 (4)
Greenfinch 5 (2)
Goldfinch 2 (0)
Tree Creeper 0 (1)
By the way, some of the house sparrows may be dunnocks or hedge sparrows. I struggle to tell the difference, except in the house sparrow males where their head markings are distinctive.