Big Garden Birdwatch anyone?

Great Tit. Photo: Tim Melling

It’s the weekend for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

I’ll be looking out of the window for an hour this morning to see what birds are using my garden. A Reed Bunting or a Blackcap would be quite exciting as I haven’t seen either in the garden yet in 2019 but I have spotted both on BGBW weekends in the past. You might see something really unusual as Stuart Winter, the tabloid twitcher, points out here.

The RSPB’s royal patron might be out with a shotgun rather than a pair of binoculars and may get Pheasant on her list.

I wonder whether the No. 10 environment advisor, Baron Randall of Uxbridge, has persuaded TM the PM to take part in her Maidenhead constituency. If so, she will have the difficult decision about whether to ‘count’ any Red Kites flying over her garden even if they do not swoop down and land. The Guardian seems to think that counting fly-over Red Kites is OK but this is a subject which could generate as much fierce debate as the Irish backstop.

I’m sure TM the PM would be able to recognise a Great Tit even though Boris left the Cabinet table some time ago.

The BGBW is a matter of fun but it is more than that. It has, in the past highlighted some of the big changes in bird populations in the UK and I well remember that the decline in Song Thrush numbers was clear in the BGBW counts before analysis of more formal datasets confirmed its existence. This is its 40th year and that longevity makes the observations of real interest. And it’s fun. It’s a good opportuity to be mindful of wildlife for just this hour and really concentrate on what birds you see, and watch them and see what they are doing.

I’ll be settling down to do the annual count this morning and I’ll let you know how I get on. Oh look, it’s getting light now, and the best weather of the day in east Northants is forecast for the next few hours – I had better get ready.

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6 Replies to “Big Garden Birdwatch anyone?”

  1. We did our BGBW yesterday morning and had a good selection of birds including Siskins and longtailed tits. One dreams of having a flock of say 30 waxwings but not this year!! All told, with a cup of coffee, it was a thoroughly enjoyable hour. I hope the RSPB have a record return.

  2. I was very busy yesterday so didn't have time. Cold weather, gale force winds from the North and constant rain today in Aberdeen so far. Saw 8 Goldcrest,1 Robin and 1 Chaffinch on my first look out of the window, Might still find time to do it today.
    I assume the birds near me still have to feed even in this dreadful weather, if they have not taken the decision to head South driven by the wind.
    I, on the other hand, do not have to venture outdoors today if the feeders don't need filling.
    We could even wait until tomorrow this year.

  3. Quite right to count the kites. They feed in gardens more than they do in the surrounding countryside these days so as long as it's looking down it should count!

  4. We have lots and lots of goldfinches and Mark,we also have a striking male blackcap. I saw a Raven fly over the house yesterday. This is the first I've seen come over in 40yrs. I know where these guys hang out,but it's my little secret as I don't want them killed. But as a clue,TM lives just down the road.

  5. I saw a pheasant in my garden. Cleaning up the seed that I had put out for our native birds - grrrh.
    As I don't have and never will have a shotgun, he survived to live another day.

  6. 66 birds of 17 spp. Highlights (for me) 3 Stock doves, 2 Marsh tits, 20 Blue tits, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and G-s woodpecker. Was count affected by strong winds, I wonder. Birds seems more skitty in the wind - nervous because can't hear predators so well? Cheers.


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