RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2012

Posted: Monday 30 January 2012
by Richard Jones

Last weekend was the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. The idea was simple: spend an hour in the garden, or local park, sometime over the weekend, and input what birds you saw at the RSPB website.

Starling on feeder

Last weekend was the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. The idea was simple: spend an hour in the garden, or local park, sometime over the weekend, and input what birds you saw at the RSPB website.
This was not an arduous task for me. Between 10am and 11am on Sunday morning I saw precisely 10 birds in my garden: seven house sparrows, two wood pigeons and a great tit. Not the most enthralling tally. In fact, if I think about it, I’m sure this was way down on the numbers I’d normally see in any other hour of any other weekend. Maybe the birds were all off elsewhere, being counted in other people’s gardens.
No. I have to accept that, in a cross-sectional survey like this, we can’t all have huge numbers of interesting and unusual birds hopping about on the lawn. Compared to last year’s results my 10 birds seem to fit in very well. Seven sparrows is significantly higher than the national average of four, the two pigeons are slightly higher than the average 1.9 and the lone titmouse slightly lower than the average 1.5.
I, and my garden, are just statistics, but since 600,000 people took part in 2011, these meagre numbers build up into a valuable database of over 10 million bird records.
It’s not a competition, it's a data-gathering exercise and I should be happy that my decade of feathery friends has added to the greater knowledge. That doesn’t stop some people showing off, though. Amongst my various Twitter connections I saw reports of brambling (not sure I’ve ever seen one of those anyway), sparrowhawk (baited with dead parakeet, I bet), siskin, pheasant and redpoll. Next year, if I get desperate, I may have to release the budgies.

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donutsmrs 02/02/2012 at 13:23

Hi Richard, I did the Big Garden Bird Watch, I spent a lovely hour on Sunday afternoon watching the birds. I've done the Bird watch for a few years now and really enjoy it. Like you I saw the normal birds like sparrows, starlings etc. But it has enabled me to see a bird a didn't realise came into my garden, a Dunnock two of them in fact, so what a bonus. And would you believe it, yesterday I saw two little Wrens, now where were they on Sunday when I needed them.

Peat B 02/02/2012 at 20:38

Darn ! I missed the big garden birdwatch on Saturday, as I was becoming a Grand-daddy ! All the same, I can safely report that the 'lotty bird population is healthy, varied and growing. Today, Thursday Feb 2, I noted in 1/2 an hour, 6 jackdaws, 2 starlings, 1 cock greenfinch, 2 cock chaffinch, 2 dunnock, 2 collared dove, 1 feral pigeon, 6 blue tits, 2 great tits, 1 coal tit, 2 pheasant, 5 blackbirds 2 robin and this was good enough for the time there !
I kissed seeing the usual gang of spuggies seething around the hedge, as they are commonly numbering 5 or 6 .

mallingopal 02/02/2012 at 22:18

I am glad we are not the only ones with a lack of birds in the garden. I wondered if its because the weather has been mild and there are still a lot of berries left on the trees and bushes.

littlerlisa 03/02/2012 at 06:56

I have a woodpecker that visits our feeder everyday to feed from the fat balls. It is costing me a fortune in fat balls and coconut and he decided not to turn up the one day I was counting!

Surbiton_Margot 03/02/2012 at 15:31

I also did the bird watch and was disappointed that so few birds were around this year (2 wood pigeons and a magpie!). I also wondered if the mild weather was to blame as last year our bird feeders were attracting a lot more visitors, including more shy birds such as jays (we have an urban garden)... hopefully it was not reflective of any decrease in populations, just the fact that the birds are finding their food elsewhere in the milder weather?

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