Sunday, 31 January 2010
Big Garden Bird Watch
It’s always interesting to take part in the Big Garden Bird Watch each year and spend an hour seeing just how many birds are coming to the food we put out. Watching the birds regularly we know that the weather plays a huge part in numbers. The garden is quite exposed, facing south across Strathspey to the Cairngorms. In stormy weather there may be no birds at all. In mild weather there may be few birds. Last year it was cold and dry with a strong wind and no snow on the ground. We counted 19 individual birds from 9 species. For 5 species just 1 bird appeared. That was with two people counting so all the feeders and tables were observed throughout the hour. This year I was by myself. Due to the complete snow cover, the +1ºC temperature and the lack of wind I expected many birds, especially as the severe conditions have lasted over six weeks without a break. Counting was difficult at times due to the number of birds and the speed with which they flew in and out but I ended up with a conservative 54 individuals in 10 species. With only 2 species was there just 1 individual. Chaffinches were the most common with 25 seen at one time (probably more but at least that number). Last year there was just one. Other birds seen were 10 coal tits (last year 8), 5 blue tits (last year 2), 3 great tits (last year 2), 3 blackbirds (last year 1), 2 robins (last year 2), 2 great spotted woodpeckers (last year 0), 2 greenfinches (last year 0), 1 dunnock (last year 1) and 1 pheasant (last year 1). The only bird we saw last year that didn’t appear this year was a sparrowhawk, which flew in near the end of the count, ensuring that we saw no more birds.
Photo info: Coal Tits on seed feeder. Canon EOS 450D, 55-250@250mm, 1/400@ f5.6, ISO 100, raw file cropped and converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.6