It was great to see so many birds at our RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch session in the garden on Sunday, 29th of January. Things were a bit quiet to begin with and although we could hear the birds singing, none were brave enough to come down to the feeders, probably becuase of the line of humans watching their every move! But that soon changed and we had a very healthy mixture of birds appear including chaffinches, greenfinches, house sparrows and a dunnock.
To our disappointment, the long tail tits which often visit the feeders failed to make an appearance this time. Nor was there any trace of the waxwings, reportedly flocking to the East coast of Scotland from Scandinavia of late, due to severe weather and lack of their favourite berries there. We were a little envious of Richard who managed to spot a few of them earlier on the farm near Tentsmuir.
We feed the birds every day we are in the garden and thanks to our volunters have three feeding tables available. Meal worms are a bit hit and when we put them out our resident robin is usually the first to appear. His/her bravery has been rewarded by a lovely big round belly. On Sunday we had fat balls made of lard/suet, nuts, cereals and seeds, peanuts in a feeder, meal worms and a good seed mix available. Fatballs are popular in the winter and great tits, other tits, starlings, blackbirds and sparrows seem to love them. The mealworms are also very popular. It’s really interesting to watch the birds arrive, often the chaffinches and greenfinches come down last, maybe making sure that the coast is clear. We also have a wood pigeon who arrives later in the afternoon and who just sits on the table and eats everything left on site. But I like to think that the woodpigeon is being a bit generous because at least the small birds have had their fill.
You may ask – what was the point of counting all the birds that Sunday – apart from the obvious fun and pleasure of getting to know our feathered friends? Our counts will make an important contribution to a growing dataset from the BGBW, collected since the mid-1970s. This information has been used to answer important questions, for example, how bird distributions and numbers are changing with time, and these days, with climate change. You can read about science of the BGBW in more detail in a post by Martin Harper, RSPB’s Director of Conservation, summarising an interview with Daniel Haylow, RSPB scientist in charge of the event.
Our submission to the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch database is summarised below.
(Photos by Richard Tough and Jenny )