Friday, 31 January 2014

No crowds… but a fair tally

No surprises this year, but I was delighted to see 3x Dunnocks and 2x Robins for my one hour’s bird count for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2014. Naturally, numbers were down as expected but they were however a reasonable reflection of bird species visiting the garden just now so I was happy :-)


Sunday, February 16th is the deadline for submitting your bird/wildlife count results. I successfully added my count, without any trouble, but it seems that the website has been running a tad slow with the thousands of people helping with this survey at the moment and the RSPB are asking everyone to bear with them. I'd guess, by now things are working fine with the results rush over :-)

As my tally counter shows, a respectable 36 birds popped in to my garden during my count. That’s up on the 22 birds I had been expecting – but I should have looked at last year’s blog post instead of relying on my memory as there were 36 birds last year too! However, taking the weather in to account, last year’s snow should have seen more numbers than this year’s rain so the 2014 result is good :-)


Sightings submitted, what happens now?

“Our scientists will add all your sightings together with those from thousands of other gardens right across the country and find out how birds and other wildlife are doing.

Once this has all been checked and pieced together, we’ll be able to monitor trends and understand how different birds and other wildlife are faring. Then, together, we can help those in danger and find the best ways to give nature a home.

Look out for the results in March.”
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2014


I suspected a Sparrowhawk watching the garden for my count with the heavy rain and sleet showers. The birds were a tad nervous too so I suspect they did too. Sparrowhawks do seem to appear on days like this, I've noticed this through my gardenwatching years.

So, the bird tables were unusually quiet for my count with the birds favouring hidden feeders like the little one in my Acer tree where the network of arching branches which made for safer feeding perhaps. If you missed my last blog post follow the link and you’ll see the locations of my bird feeders. My bird count for 2014 is in the image below.






Looking between the images above of the birdwatch results for 2014 and 2013 above, you can see how bright the day was last year and how relatively easy the birds would have been to see and count. It really was a dark morning for this year’s count (taken 0950 – 1050) and I suspect little brown birds like the House Sparrows might have be missed in gardens with the same light conditions.

Dunnocks, could very easily have been missed in bird counts as they travel undercover through plants like shrubs, ornamental grasses and around plants in pots too. They skirt round the edges of lawns and corners of gardens – see previous blog post on the Dunnock for help in ID for this bird. I have a nice short close-up video of the Dunnock there too :-)




The Dunnock, is a bird that the RSPB want to see increase in numbers but I might take a guess that perhaps they are in more gardens than figures from the count suggest which is good news for this bird that has a very interesting hidden life.

There are concerns on Starling numbers declining too and most noticeably in my garden, the grated cheese on offer usually found by some sort of radar in this bird wasn’t working for once! No Starlings were sighted in my garden for my count and that doesn’t sound good for this bird at all – I wonder if other gardens found the same. I hope not :-(

Wishing you all a good weekend, do you have any garden plans? I’ve got a bird table job to do and an edge finishing on my new wildlife pond :-)


This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in January 2014.

5 comments:

SeagullSuzie said...

How lovely to see your bird count...mine was a flat 0
The wind and rain kept the poor birds away.

Sue Garrett said...

What a coincidence my total tally was 36 too although made up slightly differently as you may have seen on my blog. We had a sparrowhawk turn up two days later.

I think lots of people will assume that a dunnock is a sparrow. I do wonder how the RSPB take account of possible misidentification as I know of people who do the count and don't really know a blue tot from a great tit and to whom every little brownish bird is a sparrow.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Sounds like you had a pretty good count except for the Starlings not showing up. I do wish we could export some Starlings to your area. They are a nusiance bird around here. They are so clever and aggressive with the native birds. Taking the nest holes away from the woodpeckers. One pair nested in my garden last year. House Sparrows are the main bird at our feeders.

Angie said...

I'll shout out to the starlings and let them know you have spots available Shirely - I counted 19 but that wasn't them all. The kamikaze kitten (aka Alfie from next door) made my count extremely difficult as he kept gate crashing. I do wish they'd buy him a collar with a bell.
A good idea to keep a note, I must do this.
I found it took an age to get onto the site.

Shirley said...

Hello everyone, thanks for all your comments :-)

Suzie, Aw… what a disappointment for your count. Perhaps you might have been too distracted with your new macro lens to count anyway ;-)

Sue, what a coincidence indeed! I see you had 4x Goldfinches, we aren’t seeing so many of them just now – the minute it gets cold they’ll be back! It’s not felt like winter but we are far from out of the woods there yet. Yes, I saw that Sparowhawk of yours – great pics. Yes, I agree with you on the misidentification. I struggle myself when there are large groups of birds.

Lisa, ha-ha… we’ve had this conversation about the Starlings before. I’m sure the RSPB and BTO would appreciate your offer but I’m with you on them being a nuisance bird at times too – especially when they bring their young in and empty all the food within hours. Gosh… taking a nest hole from woodpeckers… now I’m not surprised you want to export them. You will be used to seeing the young Starlings too – soooo very noisy they are aren’t they? Ah… now I do remember your House Sparrows being your main bird. It’s fun we see the same bird species across the miles :-)

Angie, lol… no don’t bother thanks! You can keep your Starlings over on the other side of the bridge. I’m delighted to hear they are not in complete decline thanks to you :-) Oh dear, a gate crashing kitten for your count – yes I agree with you on the bells on collars especially at fledgling time.