The Big Garden Birdwatch: what we saw

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Were you among the 133,000 people who took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch and have so far submitted their results online? If so, we’d love to hear from you about your experiences.

Here at Food for the Birds we nipped home to watch the wildlife over a cup of tea in the middle of a day spent walking the country footpaths that still exist in surprising numbers around our increasingly-urbanised Hertfordshire home.

We’re on the edge of town, so there’s a field at the end of the road – but despite this we tend to only get urban birds in our smallish, sheltered garden. We’d consider ourselves lucky to see any of the more colourful finches that fill country hedgerows, and so it proved during the hour we spent on alert for the Big Garden Birdwatch.

At first, we saw nothing but heard a lot. Even the bird feeder with its suety treat was ignored, although the house was surrounded by song and a pair of rooks took up their usual ominous perch on a roof in the next street. But then our regular visitors started to appear.

There was a great tit, friendly inquisitive robins, a pair of blackbirds, wood pigeons swooping across the garden to land in the neighbour’s encroaching leylandii. A couple of blue tits, which were a bonus – we hadn’t seen them before and if they’ve been back since then we’ve missed them. Apart from them, there was everything we expected to see and nothing that we didn’t.

A day later, the feeder was discovered by flock of a dozen noisy starlings which stage occasional smash-and-grab raids and disappear like teenage gatecrashers who’ve heard the police pull up outside. Even so, the report we submitted to the RSPB website was a good picture of what we usually see in our garden.

Which suggests that whoever decided that it only needed an hour’s observation to get an accurate picture of your local birdlife knew what they were talking about. We’re looking forward to seeing the results, and learning what conclusions the RSPB draw from them about the state of the country’s birdlife.

And, of course, we’ll take part again next year.

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