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Monday, 6 February 2017

The Small Garden Birdwatch

Results in from my hour's bird spotting vigil for the Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 at the end of January. Not wishing to be repetitive (c.f. The Watching Hour post from last year), though the repeated gathering of data is part of the accumulating value of the survey.

(James Alexander Gordon voice) House sparrow 13; robin 2; blackbird 2; wood pigeon and dunnock 1.

And it occurred to me, how often would I otherwise spend an hour observing the tiny front garden space, really an hour, and really watching? More than casual glimpses, the hour revealed some behaviour being played out among the feathered visitors. 

House sparrows dominated the survey count, as in previous years and generally for the survey as a whole (in 88% of gardens, according to reported results so far). I wonder if their gang monopolising of the fatball feeder kept the blue tits and great tits at bay. However, as last year, the regular rain of pecked fatball fragments encouraged robins, blackbirds, the dunnock and an ambling pigeon to benefit from the reliable spillage below.

It shows the advantage of providing more than a single food type and location, at different heights, for different species. The blackbirds had read the same book and fed at the windfall apples left out for them.

Mrs Blackbird has spoken (blurry picture taken through window)
The appearance of same species pairs was interesting: a male and female blackbird and two robins present and tolerating each other suggests pairing up as a prelude to the breeding season; spring on the way?

STOP PRESS: 2017 results now posted on the RSPB website.

The Top 10 species in 2017 Big Garden Birdwatch:
Bird species - average number per garden (% of gardens species recorded in)
  1. House sparrow - 4.3 (67%)
  2. Starling - 3.2 (48%)
  3. Blackbird - 2.9 (93%)
  4. Blue tit - 2.5 (80%)
  5. Woodpigeon - 2.3 (78%)
  6. Goldfinch - 1.6 (34%)
  7. Robin - 1.6 (89%)
  8. Great tit - 1.4 (40%)
  9. Chaffinch - 1.3 (40%)
  10. Long-tailed tit - 1.2 (30%)