Big Garden Birdwatch 2009

by Adam Pasco

When it's cold outside, and none of the family offer to join me in the garden for a spot of tidying up, it's nice having the company of some feathered friends instead.

Adam Pasco attaching a bird box to a silver birchWhen it's cold outside, and none of the family offer to join me in the garden for a spot of tidying up, it's nice having the company of some feathered friends instead. During winter the birds are bolder and friendlier than ever, with robins in particular diving in and out of soil beneath my feet as I fork over flowerbeds.

January is the time I like to put up the bird nest boxes, or clean out old ones that were used last spring. I've already noticed a few blue tits around, exploring existing nesting boxes, popping in and out to check on their suitability. I'm lucky enough to have a couple of silver birches in my garden, both ideal for supporting a nest box. On one I'll keep the traditional blue tit box with a small hole in the front, but the other will be an open-fronted nest box that should be ideal for my robin.

When you actually spend time looking, it's surprising just how many birds are around at this time of year. Looking at birds is exactly what I've been doing, as part of the Big Garden Birdwatch, the RSPB's annual garden bird survey. The survey is intended to provide a 'snapshot' of bird populations around the country, and helps to identify any species that appear to be in decline.

I very much enjoyed sitting nice and warm indoors, cup of tea in hand, listing and counting the birds that visited my garden. There are certainly worse ways to spend an hour. Now I've collected the data I remember to submit the results online.

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Gardeners' World Web User 26/01/2009 at 21:34

We have been very happy to see chaffinches, greenfinches, our resident Blackbird, Robins and Blue Tits. The following I think we have are Great Tit and Coal Tit. These birds enjoy the seeds and peanuts we have in the feeders. I have just turned all the boarders over and created a new boarder and the Robin has been having a feast. In the young Oak Tree in the garden next door I noticed two birds the size of the Blue Tits (not sure if they were) were chasing around the branches but swirling up and down them. We have had some Blue Tits looking at our nest box. It has been up over a year but never been lived in. My husband and I enjoy looking out onto our garden with all the coming and goings and used the dry weather on Saturday to do some tidying up. We have 2 Westies that the youngest spends her time just sitting under the confiers watching them come and go feeding.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/01/2009 at 15:50

I had my best-ever BGBW on Sunday, seeing almost every species I've ever spotted in my garden, plus a couple of extras. I saw 3 wood pigeons, 2 blackbirds (1 male and 2 female but only 2 at once so I only counted 2), 6 starlings, 2 robins, 1 dunnock, 1 collared dove, 1 blue tit, 1 song thrush (only the second time I've ever seen one in my garden I think so I'm most grateful to her for showing up at that particular time!!), 3 Long Tailed Tits, 1 coal tit and the new ones were a magpie and 2 carrion crows. All in all a great hour - most enjoyable! I've had one blue tit-style nest box up for a while now but it's not been used yet so I might move it. I also have a robin-style box and a house sparrow terrace waiting to go up - just got to find the perfect spots for them in my relatively small garden!

Gardeners' World Web User 28/01/2009 at 16:00

We took part for the first time this year - there were a couple of species missing from our usual visitors - collared doves and greenfinches, and we usually get at least 5 goldfinches instead of just the 3, and only 1 wood pidgeon as opposed to 3 or 4. I'm pretty sure it was two different robins, but as there was only one at a time, we couldn't count as 2. But the blue and great tits, sparrow, chaffinch and blackbirds, even the solitary magpie, made our hour spent worthwhile.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/01/2009 at 23:42

Had a lovely time watching a pair of robins out of my kitchen window.They are sizing up my passionflower as a potential house to build their nest.Isnt it a bit early for this to be happening?Would appreciate any comments

Gardeners' World Web User 29/01/2009 at 12:26

I, like Sandra, have noticed that the Robins seem to have paired up already (and the blackbirds) and it does seem a couple of weeks earlier than normanl. As a general rule of thumb my old dad used to say that birds always paired up on Valentine's Day!

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