Ironically, for the first post of this new era of the blog I didn't actually wander very far...I fact as far as the spare bedroom window to undertake the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch on Sunday 26th January 2014. This is an annual survey that takes place in late January each year and helps build up a snapshot of the state of Britain's garden birds. Anyone can take part (it only takes an hour of your time) and I can only encourage you, if you don't already do so, to join in next year
Our back garden is a narrow garden on a terraced street. Over the years I have tried to maximise on this space and create a variety of habitats for the wildlife. There are currently two bird feeding stations, one at the rear of the garden and one near the front and we provide homemade fat cakes, mealworms, peanuts and sunflower hearts. In the winter months we also put out apple halves. Some may say this is expensive, and yes we could put out cheaper alternatives, but the variety of birds that we get in our humble garden is very rewarding so it far out ways the cost. Add to that the fact that our feeders are mostly visited by House Sparrows and Starlings it is more than worth while!
I started the survey at 10:30 am and soon picked up the 2 ♂ Blackcaps that have been visiting our feeders. At one point this winter we had 4 Blackcaps (3♂ & 1♀) but as they have got more aggressive and territorial (as Blackcaps do) we now only have 2 males, one at the front feeding station and one at the rear. Shortly afterwards 6 Blue Tits and a pair of Blackbirds were added to the list. Then things went quite.
Thankfully the lull only lasted for about 20 minutes before things went frantic. The next arrival at the feeders were 9 House Sparrows followed by a handful of Starlings. But it didn't stop there, as the whole local flock of Starlings landed in top of one of the trees. I quickly counted them and recorded an incredible 73 Starling...not bad for a small terraced house garden.
It wasn't long before I added Collared Dove, Robin, Woodpigeon and best of all Song Thrush to the hour's total.
Just after I finished a Goldfinch arrived in the garden and started to feed on the sunflower hearts, the first one I have recorded in the garden this winter.
Regular garden visitors that didn't put in an appearance during the survey were Dunnock and Great Tit. Still even without these two species it wasn't a bad hour's garden watch and certainly better than some years!