Watching the birdie weekend


The last weekend in January was the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) Big Garden Birdwatch. The idea was that you spent an hour in your garden and counted as many different birds and their numbers as you could spot and to avoid duplicate counting, you counted the maximum number of a species you saw at any time.

The RSPB had forecast that the numbers of birds in your garden could be low as the winter had been mild and there was plenty of food around elsewhere.

I decided to watch from 4pm to 5pm on Saturday and I duly topped up the feeders and settled down with my camera, binoculars and notepad. But after 30 minutes my only sighting was a single collared dove in our fig tree. I decided to have another go on Sunday morning – bird breakfast time, I hoped.

I was rugged up and watching for birds by 8:30am. It didn’t take long, the first being a fat wood pigeon. I was soon very busy noting and photographing birds [see the slideshow at the end of the story featuring sparrows, starlings, tits and a dove]. And after the hour I had a pretty good count as follows –

  • One wood pigeon, two collared doves and six house sparrows
  • Four starlings, one great tit and one coal tit
  • One robin, one blue tit, a magpie, and
  • A jackdaw and a wren

Many of these were old friends and some, like the magpie and jackdaw, I just tolerate. I was particularly pleased to see the starlings as they are infrequent visitors to our garden.

Most of the birds I know quite well from summer evenings when I’m having a glass of something chilled in the garden.

This was my first year of doing the bird watch and it might turn me into an enthusiastic bird watcher. I hope some other locals tried their hand and I look forward to your comments about what you did or did not see.


Photos and slideshow by Ray Prewer

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