On January 29th this year we had some very good friends, the Cartwrights, staying with us from Yorkshire. Like so many of us they are very interested in birds and encourage them in their garden; John is very envious of them because one of their ‘garden birds’ happens to be a kingfisher which they frequently spot by the small stream which borders their garden.
Kingfishers aside, we all decided after lunch to set aside an hour, from the comfort of the Orchard Farm kitchen window (it was January after all) counting the birds that came to our garden for the RSPB Annual Garden Birdwatch. Inevitably at first there were no birds at all. Was Boots around, stalking them stealthily? Or perhaps it was an unseen sparrowhawk circling above? For a while we had visions of making a ‘nul points’ return but fortunately our feeders were soon as busy as usual when the usual ones started flocking in; unfortunately we did not keep the list we made. One enters the totals online for the RSPB and therefore we have no record of the final totals but I can confidently say that we had no wonderful surprises to record.
The faithful Orchard Farm feeders are – not necessarily in this order – Blue Tits, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Dunnock, Goldfinches, Nuthatch, Tree Creepers, Blackbirds, Bullfinches, Pigeons, Pheasants. The squirrel tries his hardest to pretend he is a bird and gets up to the most amazing antics to get at the feeders, usually unsuccessfully I am glad to report. He does look horribly glossy and well-fed, though, so maybe he is clever enough now to time his maraudings when we are not watching like hawks at the window.
The first ten for Derbyshire this year were: House Sparrow, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Starling, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Great Tit, Robin. Bullfinches come in at no. 20 and overall were only recorded in 8% of the gardens in Derbyshire on January 29th so we certainly buck the trend there as we see them a lot now, to our pleasure, and I know we saw several on the birdwatch day.
The first ten for England were: House Sparrow, Starling, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Collared Dove, Robin. Interestingly, the Bullfinch doesn’t feature in the first 20 in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Next year the survey happens over the weekend of 26 and 27 January 2013 I shall make a point of keeping our personal tally, just for the amusement of seeing how we vary from the average.