Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 30/01/2011

Big Garden Birdwatch

I took part in an RSPB bird watching initiative today which aims to determine the numbers of wild birds in the UK, and therefore see if and what needs to be done to stop the decline in specific species.

My figures have now been submitted, though they’re not really reflective of the total number of birds we normally see; for example, whilst we had one Nuthatch and of course Phil appear, we only saw two Chaffinches, three Wood Pigeons and two Great Tits, these figures being much lower than normal. Also to skew the figures further, the first bird I spotted this morning was a rare visitor to our garden, a Song Thrush. Still, like any census it’s supposed to be a snapshot and not a scientific count so I guess it all works out in the end.

Looking at previous years results it’s interesting as well as worrying to see what changes there have been. Two bird species in particular are in alarming decline compared to 20 years ago… the Starling and the House Sparrow. Whilst these birds may still be present in gardens, it’s the number of each that is of concern with huge reductions in each species. I remember trying to scare off starlings and house sparrows from bird feeders as a boy so that the exotic and rarely seen Blue Tits and Great Tits could be spotted. These two colourful birds are now the most abundant varieties in our garden, and in fact the Blue Tit is number one garden bird in our county.

Initially I had hoped to spot some unusual species as a badge of honour but after giving it some thought (with time on your hands counting birds, you have the time to think these things out) I came to realise that it would not be representative of the birds that visit and therefore not an accurate snapshot. A bit like Dr Johnson Dictionary, this was mearly a record of the time, and not supposed to be a list to aspire to. “Contrafribularites”, sir? It is a common bird down our way”


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