Sunday, 9 March 2008

Garden Birdwatch March 2008

Weekend mornings are ideal to do an early morning bird count. I love to sit and have breakfast at the window watching the early frantic dashes through the garden by the visiting birds. I especially like to do this as light comes up. Today I did a count for no other reason than I hadn't done one in a while. I took my count between 7.45 - 8.45am.

Top of the leader board today was, once again, the Chaffinch with 9. During my count I saw five males (left above) and three females (right above). Later on during the day I saw many more.


Second place was the Blackbird with 8. During my count I saw one partial albino male, four males (left above) and four females (right above). I love to see and hear the Blackbirds in the morning. They really do make the garden come alive.


Third place went to the siskin with 7. During my count today I saw two males (left above) but later in the day I saw five. I saw five females (centre above) and there were probably eight later on in the day. I saw four Goldfinches (right above) and I may have seen one more later.


Two male House Sparrows (left above) were seen and one female. Two Greenfinches and two Blue Tits were also seen. On other days I have noticed four Blue Tits in the garden and I know more have visited as I have seen different birds in our Camera Nestbox.


Finally with a count of one, from left to right above, is the Robin, Dunnock and Female Blackcap. Now this was interesting to see the female Blackcap still with us as I haven't noticed her recently. However, just before I began my count I filled up some of the feeders and put some apples on my obelisk. Guess where I spotted the Blackcap - yes, at the apples once again!

Bird counts are always interesting to do and look back on. I have never had a Blackcap in my garden for so long. I am always expecting that it will leave soon as no males have been seen and I have never seen them in my garden during Spring and Summer. They are new visitors appearing for the first time in January 2007 and then again for a brief visit in February 2007.

Collared doves, I have been told, usually visit in groups but I only ocassionally see one. However today, true to form after a bird count is over, along came one then another! A Song Thrush was also spotted on the branches of an over looking tree but as I didn't see it on my trees, feeders or on the ground it wasn't included in my count.

Birds do look out for the feeders being filled up and one such bird is the Jackdaw. Today, once the birds started buzzing around the garden from feeder to feeder it flew to the roof of my house. It then took a fly-by past a particular feeder that I will put a few odd peanuts on. No joy for him today as I had run out! So he wasn't included in the count either. I have noticed the Great Tits appear when the peanuts are put out too but as I don't want to attract the squirrels I don't put out many and not on a regular basis either. I enjoyed my count this morning and looked forward to garden walkabout to look at the plants later.

11 comments:

Azziria said...

Strangely, the birds in our garden hardly touch peanuts. We've tried nuts from different sources, in case there was a problem with the nuts themselves, but it makes no difference. Various seed mixes disappear with alarming speed, as does any fat block or ball (another odd thing - the starlings prefer the fat block with peanuts in it to any other), but peanuts are hardly touched. Of course, the odd passing squirrel is always happy to take them off our hands...

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I enjoyed your bird count too Shirl. Love seeing your European species. They are so different from our garden birds.

Cheryl said...

Lovely post and stunning photographs. I am an RSPB member so did the bird count, I do it every year. I always find it interesting to see how things have changed.
Interesting site,I shall visit again.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I just love the little birds - there's something so charming about the way they hop around.

Barbara said...

Here the birds don't come any longer to the feeder, probably they already find enough in the garden. Some songbirds are back now and I'm enjoying their songs when it is sunny (not at the moment, we have a storm and rain!).

shirl said...

Hi again, Azziria, Lisa, Cheryl, Mr McGregor’s Daughter and Barbara :-)

Azziria – It is always interesting to hear of the acquired tastes of our visiting garden birds across the country. The mixes aren’t always a success in my garden – sunflower hearts are the favourites here. I supplement them with a mix sometimes on the ground and ground feeders only. I do use fatcakes too but only in the guardian cage to keep the flocks of Starlings away – thinking about my neighbours! I also like to scatter sultanas or dried mixed fruit on the ground too. The blackbirds and song thrushes like them – as do the hedgehogs. The hedgehogs also love peanuts and it was when I left them out the squirrels found them!

Lisa – Glad you enjoyed seeing my count – I’ll have to get new photos for my next one. I also enjoy seeing your American garden birds too – especially the robin and the cardinals :-D

Cheryl – Thank-you! I agree it is very interesting to see the change between the years with the RSPB count especially with the results from all our gardens. Yes, do come again :-D

McGregor’s Daughter – I am with you on that! I am not as interested in other birds except for some strange reason a predator of the garden birds. The birds of prey somehow catch my attention too :-D

Barbara – Sorry to hear that. I am sure they must be getting plenty from you mature garden – shame you don’t get to see such close-up views of the birds now. Ah… but hearing the song birds must be wonderful. Hope your storm and rain dies down soon!

Mike @ Fenphotography said...

Hi Shirl, great variety your still getting in your garden, mine appears to have gone a bit quiet, although we did have a nuthatch here the other day, 1st time in about a year. Mike.

shirl said...

Hi again Mike :-)

Yes, I am very lucky with variety of visiting birds I have. For some strange reason today I had, unusually, six woodpigeons at the feeders. Needless to say, I opened a window to scatter them!

I would love to see a nuthatch – that must have been a nice surprise to see it back visiting your garden again. You have a Nestbox don’t you? Perhaps a lot of the birds have started looking for nesting sites. We are two weeks behind England and I know blue tits have already started their nesting shuffles there already!

BTW I have posted some photos of mallards
on my birdphotos blog – nothing remotely in the same class as your bird photos but I was delighted some looked okay. I really must get more familiar with the settings on my camera :-D

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments on the Female Blackcap. I'm now sure the garden next door but one nesting in bushy ivy growing on top of a fence and I see it fom my kitchen window sitting on the fence making quick darting flights and also entering the ivy. I tried identification on RSPB, etc but your picture has assured me it is definitely a Female Blackcap. Should I try putting out some fruit on the floor, or does it prefer feeding from height?

I've only recently started feeding the birds in my back garden. Like Assiria my local birds don't seem to like peanuts! I have hung out a seed feeder also which is popular with the smaller birds (as yet I've not identified these) but I've had to move it to a hook near the house as the supposedly squirrel proof feeder amazingly isn't and I often catch them hanging down the branches horizontally somehow managing to feed!. The small birds sadly haven't discovered the feeder in its new position.

The blackbirds are going crazy for a fat block with fruit (I counted 16 in the tree and on the ground foraging earlier!). There's a different bird there now but its just flown away before I could try to identify it.

shirl said...

Hi there, I am delighted that my photo has helped with your ID for the female blackcap.

I remember having difficulty with an ID for the male when it first came into my garden. If you scroll down the right hand column and select ‘Blackcap’ from the Labels list you will see more photos and video footage.

As for foods, I can only say what I have tried in my garden. The first food the blackcaps came to was the RSPB fatcake hanging on the branch of small tree near my bird table. Within a day they went exploring other feeders. I don’t often put out peanuts, it is sunflower hearts that seem the best food for most of the birds that come to my garden. The blackcap will take sunflower hearts too from both a hanging feeder and a tray on the ground or even at the bird table.

I scatter dried mixed fruit on the ground trays and it will take that too. In fact the other day I threw a piece of plain sponge cake out beside the ground feeder and watched the female blackcap even enjoy that! She will also take the mixed seed mixes as well. My hanging feeders are the tube type not the wire mesh ones.

So what are the favourite foods for the blackcaps in my garden? The fatcake and apples are the most popular. When I was tidying up the garden last autumn and putting my obelisks away a thought came to me to core four apples and push them through the main poles to use it as an experimental feeder. This has been a great success all winter with the blackbirds enjoying them too. I also use the hooks to hang my feeders. I only had squirrels when I put some peanuts out for hedgehogs. Although the squirrels haven’t seemed interested in my sunflower hearts I have heard that they might like them too.

Don’t worry about birds not coming to your feeders they will eventually find them. You should perhaps consider a place where they could jump up or down from a shrub or tree. It only needs a couple of birds to start coming and the rest will follow. Moving a feeder often throws the birds off a little as it is likely that they have their flight route for your garden all sorted for a quick exit – they will adapt to the change.

Blackbirds do love the fat block but I should warn you that once one starling finds a fat block your garden will get very noisy indeed! Starlings love fat blocks twice as much as blackbirds! Maybe you should move the fat block around. Its great fun identifying the new birds to the feeders - we have new visitors at the moment now too.

I hope this has helped you - enjoy your visiting birds :-D

Anonymous said...

I really like the pictures on your blog. You've obviously taken a lot of care taking them. They're so good I'm putting them on my iPod!!