This morning between 10-11am I took part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2008. It was a very windy morning as I topped up my feeders just before 9am. I have found that newly filled feeders sometimes take up to an hour for the birds to descend on them in their usual numbers.
Update March 26th 2008: If you are looking for the results from the RSPB they just came out this morning. I have also just posted on them too with comparisons to last year.
The RSPB bird count is for the UK only. However, I thought I would be interesting to see what visits gardens in other parts of the world too. So I enlisted some help from some friends in the blogging community to take part with us this weekend. You will find details of their counts at the bottom of this post which I will update as they come in. I will also add a link here at the end of March for the results of the RSPB count.
Just before I began counting a jackdaw came down for a few peanuts I put on top of the sunflower hearts in the small seed tray next to my hanging feeders. This jackdaw always spots them there! However just like a grey heron that flew over my garden it didn’t appear in my results – birds flying over the garden don’t count. Two crows also flew over.
A photo montage of the different garden birds that visited during my bird count this morning I thought would be much more interesting to see - especially for any visitors reading this from outside the UK. These really are pretty little garden birds. You can still see a list of the statistics below. Looking at the photos, one photo represents one of that species visiting although many females did visit too.
Half-way through my bird count and I was happy that although some numbers were down on a usual day it still was a fairly good account of my visiting birds. The numbers of chaffinches and siskins in particular were increasing at the feeders although the birds are always nervous on a windy day. I was beginning to wonder how many chaffinches I could manage to count accurately as each visit brought more. Then, as I almost got a number, the wind would get up and the birds would scatter away into my hedge and surrounding trees. Of course the photo below shows what happened next!!
As suspected, although I still couldn’t believe her timing at 10.30am, a young female Sparrowhawk flew down and perched herself on the roof of my shed. She stayed there for a minute or so which was just enough time for me to move my tripod and get a few photos. Unfortunately I had problems with my focus settings trying to catch her quickly. Her feathers were getting blown about as she sat and the wind caught her too and I noticed her claws held tightly to my shed. She could clearly hear the birds hiding in my shed as she was turning round and looking towards it a few times as well as watching the ground too. She eventually flew off with nothing this time.
My count was as good as over then! It was 20 minutes before any birds returned to the feeders with the first being the chaffinches who were, not surprisingly, top of my list today. The chaffinch was top of the list for the whole of Scotland last year but my garden had the starlings with just one more. Funnily enough since the invasion of starlings into my garden with their young last summer they only visit occasionally now. There is just one bird that somtimes comes (most unusual for the starlings) and feeds with the blackbirds on the ground.
I blame the fatcakes for unsociable numbers of starlings! I guess you will agree with me on this, Robin! I now have one fatcake but it is in a feeder with a cage around it called a fatcake guardian- maybe you have something like this in the USA Robin? The blackcap, robin, blue and great tits are enjoying being able to get peace (at the moment) eating in it. However, I have to say that any claims of completely stopping the larger birds getting in this cage are false. It only took one slim starling working out it how to get in last year - with others watching! They are smart birds, starlings! However, they are on the endangered list here in the UK and this is where the statistics give a good picture of numbers. In my garden you could say after being top in my bird count last year they have gone from hero to zero! I wonder where all the juveniles went? So, now to my statistics for 2008 below.
13 CHAFFINCHES Fringilla coelebs (12 last year)
7 SISKINS Carduelis spinus (none last year)
5 HOUSE SPARROWS Passer domesticus (6 last year)
3 BLACKBIRDS Turdus merula (same last year)
3 BLUE TITS Parus caeruleus (same last year)
3 GOLDFINCHES Carduelis carduelis (2 last year)
2 GREENFINCHES Carduelis chloris (3 last year)
2 WOODPIGEONS Columba palumbus (5 last year)
1 ROBIN Erithacus rubecula (2 last year)
1 DUNNOCK Prunella modularis (same last year)
1 BLACKCAP Sylvia atricapilla (none last year)
1 SPARROWHAWK Accipter nisus (none last year)
Today, I have to blame the woodpigeon for perching itself on my neighbours pruned cherry tree overlooking my garden for spoiling what was looking like a good count from my garden! It made an excellent ‘Café Open’ sign for any Sparrowhawks looking out from mature trees in the distance! If it hadn't visited today I wonder if the Sparrowhawk would have. I should also say here that we haven’t seen as many woodpigeons visiting the garden recently - last year at this time we could easily have seen five. I am guessing the Sparrowhawk is perhaps responsible as I have noticed a patch of grey feathers in the same place on my neighbours lawn on more than a few occasions.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone outside the UK, listed below, who joined me with a bird count.
NOVA SCOTIA Canada, Sarah see comments
GEORGIA USA, Jayne see comments and post
SWITZERLAND, Barbara see comments
VIRGINIA USA, Entangled see post ‘Counting Crows’
SW INDIANA USA, Lisa see post
NOVA SCOTIA Canada, Jodi see post
N ILLINOIS USA, Mr McGregor’s Daughter see comments
CENTRAL INDIANA, Robin see comments
SE TENNESSEE USA, Frances see post
NETHERLANDS, Yolanda see comments
FLORIDA KEYS USA, Jane see comments
Thanks also go to Carol in Indiana USA and Ewa in Poland for taking part see comments.