The number and variety of birds visiting our small housing estate garden is quite amazing and I think Autumn heralds the start of a great time for Garden Bird Watching.
The hours of daylight are reducing more and more and so the birds must concentrate all their feeding into a much shorter time period than they did in the summer. They also require plenty of food for their fragile bodies to process and keep them warm through these colder nights. This of course is good news for us, providing the opportunity to see an increased level of bird activity.
As dawn breaks the birds will be hungry and eager to feed, but they do not seem to venture into the garden until the full daylight has been established. This may be a precaution against predator attack, perhaps they are more vulnerable in conditions of low light. They may also need to take some time for preening before starting to search for food, it is essential for the birds to keep their feathers in good order.
Soon however the feeding will begin and this is the time of day when I see most of the bird activity through the kitchen window. The garden starts to buzz with bird life, Starlings and House Sparrows begin to swarm over the feeders while Coal Tits, repeatedly dart in and out amongst them grabbing seeds then flying off (see Coal Tits Behaviour). Sparrows, Blue Tits and Great Tits will be busy on the seed feeders and the fat balls, hanging upside down or stretching from the branch of the pear tree in which they are situated.
Robin, Wren, Blackbird and Dunnock will often be seen during this assembly, taking a part in a wonderful display of nature. They do however tend to hop in and out of the garden with a more leisurely pace throughout the day as do the Woodpigeons. The Collared Doves are gentle, timid birds and tend to put in their first appearance when other birds have left. They seem to be easily intimidated and bullied out of the way by the other species
After maybe an hour, this initial early morning feasting will be over and sightings of the birds in the garden will be less frequent, though most species will continue to be seen throughout the day. Late afternoon can see another sharp rise in activity before the light begins to fade and the birds head for their roosts.
So for me, with the advantage of being at home most days of the week, Autumn is indeed a great time for My Garden Bird Watching.