Sunday, January 27, 2013

The RSPB | Big Garden Birdwatch | My Results

I carried out my Big Garden Birdwatch survey yesterday morning as planned. I have visited the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch website but it seems that the form for submitting results is not up yet. There is no need to panic though, the form will apparently be available online from this weekend until some time in February.

We had another fall of snow that started Friday evening and continued all through the night, much heavier this time. Accompanied by some strong winds it caused some quite deep drifts in the garden. I am afraid I could not manage to venture outside and it was down to my "Dearly Beloved" to brave the arctic conditions to see that the birds were fed and could access the water.

So at 09.20 I settled myself down with a clear view through the patio doors, pen and paper to hand and a cup of tea within easy reach. Sitting down and watching for a one hour period showed much more bird activity than I had anticipated. It demonstrated that you have to be watching for a period of time to get a true picture of the comings and goings of your garden birds.

The results, because for this survey you merely record the highest number of a species seen together at any on time, do not give a very good indication of how busy the garden was during this hour. It seemed to be a constant stream of birds flying into the garden for very short periods of time, just enough to grab a morsel of food and sometimes a drink, then flying away again.

I watched a pair of Coal Tits, which I had not seen recently, coming into the garden to wrestle free a nut from the string bag or to collect a sunflower seed from the bird table, then fly to the safety of a nearby tree. From here they would  return to the garden to search for a suitable place to "cache" it for later. They had a liking for the wall of the garage which they would inspect in minute detail looking for tiny cracks, nooks and crannies into which they could hide the food items away. They continued to do this throughout the hour I was watching, maybe disappearing for five or ten minutes then showing up again to repeat the performance.

It was amazing how quickly that one hour went.

My RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Results:

Blackbird male       2
Blackbird female    1
Blue Tit                   1
Coal Tit                   2
Collared Dove         2
House Sparrow      3
Starling                  12
Woodpigeon           2

The survey should be carried out at anytime during this weekend 26 - 27 January 2013, so you still have all day today if you have not done yours yet.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2013.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mistle Thrush

I saw on BBC teletext this morning and on the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch website that the numbers of Mistle Thrush in the UK is in a serious decline.

Low and behold I glanced out of the window this afternoon and there perched on the dead branch of the Corderline tree was first one and then two Mistle Thrushes. The first I had seen since the cold spell last winter. 

What a coincidence eh!

I shouted my nearest and dearest to come and have a look but they flew up the gardens to Rams Cherry tree and from there out of sight. Hope they soon come back.

The RSPB | Big Garden Bird Watch

Well it's that time again, doesn't the time just fly? It's time once more to sit yourself down for an hour over the weekend and take part in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch.

All you need to do is watch the birds in your garden or local park for a one hour period sometime during this weekend (26 - 27 of January). You record the highest number of each bird species you see at the same time. You don't count the total you see during the hour because you would probably get the same birds visiting more than once.

Simply keep a tally on a piece of paper ready to enter the results on the RSPB website later.

You can find out more over on the RSPB website where there is a section devoted to the Big Garden Birdwatch >> Click here This is also where you go to submit the results when your birdwatch is complete.

I will be doing my count in the morning after I have done the usual routine of thawing out the bird bath and stocking up the food on the bird tables.

If you have not done the Big Garden Birdwatch before I do recommend you take part, the RSPB get a very useful snapshot of our garden bird population and can recognise trends in bird species. Also because you sit yourself down for an hour, you might see more activity than you expected. This cold and snowy weather brings in species that we do not normally see.

 Also: Birdwatch freebies in the Daily Telegraph this weekend!

So there we are, don't forget, this weekend the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Keep Warm, Fed and Watered.

Yesterday a light snow fall continued during the morning and the temperature remained well below freezing throughout the day. It was important to ensure that my garden birds could rely on having access to clean water that was not frozen and food that was not buried beneath the snow.

One of our regular Woodpigeons sat on this perch for about two hours. The feathers are fluffed up to an extent whereby he looks twice his normal size. This then acts like a very thick layer of insulation, helping to retain the birds own body heat.

Even this Blackbird who normally looks so sleek has turned into a fluffy round ball. 

 The feathers on a bird must be kept in top condition if they are to work effectively. This is acheived by the birds carrying out a constant preening ritual.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Collared Doves Steal a Kiss

Despite the snow the birds must feed and there were many birds in my garden this morning. Away from the frenzied activity of the Starlings and the House Sparrows plus the fights between the Blackbird and Starlings, a Woodpigeon and a pair of Collared Doves sought a little solitude.

The Woodpigeon had his back to the Collared doves:

The Collared Doves steal a kiss:

The Woodpigeon senses something is going on and quickly glances back, but the Doves are too quick, pretending that nothing has happened:

The Collared Doves having had a nice meal, fly away to a place where they can be together, without prying eyes. "Was it something I did?" says the Woodpigeon.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blackbird in the Snow

This Blackbird was very entertaining whilst digging out the mealworms from beneath the fresh fall of snow. Holding his head on one side then the other and doing the "Blackbird" dance. Eventually he would plunge his beak into the snow and pull out a tasty morsel.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

We Shall Have Snow

Well Friday saw the promised snow arrive, falling gently at first but thick and fast as the morning progressed. At first light I thawed the water for the birds and cleared the early morning snow from the feeders. It seemed that no sooner had I put out the food than the snow was covering everthing over again so I placed more on the ground in the shelter of the bamboo.

 I saw Woodpigeons, Collared Doves an occasional Blackbird and Starling come to feed but for most of the day the birds seemed to be staying away. Were they staying in sheltered places to ride out the storm and conserving energy?

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Garden Birds

Here are a few pictures of my regular Garden Birds yesterday before the snow arrived.

Woodpigeon having a good feed in my garden
After a good feed there is nothing better than having a nap.

The Striking plumage of the European Starling.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another Cold Day

Well yesterday the temperature was down to minus 3 so the water for my garden birds needed constant thawing. We also saw many more birds coming into the garden to feed, to the point in fact where a second helping of food was needed in the afternoon.

For most of the day I was not in a position where I could see into the garden but Woodpigeons, Collared Doves, House Sparrows, Starlings and Blackbirds always seemed to be around.

I did notice a lot of Blackbirds coming to feed. How many individual birds there might have been I have no idea, but I did see three together at one point, all males.They seem to be more tolerant of each other at this time of year.

Now as I write this on Thursday morning, the temperature is more or less the same, we had another overnight frost and everywhere is frozen. The water in the bird bath has been thawed and plenty of food has been put out so the birds should have a good start to the day and replenish the fat they will have burnt off during the night..

A flock of around a dozen Starlings have just descended around the bird table. They do seem to be very jittery, very nervous, as I stood by the window they immediately lifted into the air and flew away. It has however given a pair of Collared Doves an opportunity to come down and have a feast.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Snow Frost Ice equals Birds

The past weekend saw a return of temperatures below zero, a heavy frost on Sunday morning then snow falling throughout Sunday night. Despite the weather forecast showing clear skies over us on Monday, the snow became heavier well into the afternoon.

The birds were back. I have written before about how the appearance of my garden birds depends very much on the weather. Obviously an abundance of food keeps them occupied elsewhere when the conditions are right but come a cold spell and their search for food brings them here.

The snow yesterday presents a problem for the birds, they cannot access food hidden by a layer of snow.

Snow in the garden, covering the bird bath and the feeders.

So first job was to clear the bird bath and make sure a good supply of clean water was available, water is essential to the survival of the birds. Next clear the bird table and the feeder of the snow and put out some food.

The weight of the snow had bent the bamboo over creating a nice sheltered area where I could clear the snow and put down some mealworms.

Some sheltered places cleared of snow, perfect for putting down some lovely mealworms.