RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – the tally

I filled up the birdfeeders first thing this morning, made a jug of coffee, and sat in the window waiting for the birds to flock in. And very little happened. So I waited a little longer. And still nothing happened, and I put it down to the fact the sun was shining, all the snow had gone and the temperature was in double figures.

A dunnock mopping up seed scattered by great tits on the hanging feeder

Then at 9.26am a group of four long tailed tits arrived on the fat balls and from then on the birds came and went in rapid succession. So the plan was to count from 9.26 to 10.26 until at around 9.50 the dog vomited on the carpet so the next 20 minutes weren’t spent counting birds. The finish time was therefore a tad delayed, but the final counts were:

Species                                 Total counted                    Maximum number at one time

Long tailed tit                              18                                                              5
Blue tit                                            18                                                              3 Dunnock                                          3                                                               1
Collared dove                                6                                                               2
Blackbird                                       13                                                               2
Greenfinch                                      5                                                               4
Wood pigeon                                  6                                                               2
Robin                                                 3                                                                2
Starling                                             5                                                                2
Great tit                                            3                                                               2
Chaffinch                                         2                                                                1

A female greenfinch enjoying some longed for sunshine

So all in all, what with the Vesuvian intervention from the dog, it was an entertaining hour and a half.

25 responses to “RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – the tally

  1. Pingback: Wildlife Observation | Home School Year

  2. Oh, Finn…we don’t have near the bird-life that you do, not in my metropolitan neighborhood anyway, but I do have a couple of those dogs you mentioned…so happy to know that they’re not just an American novelty. 😉

    • No indeed, I think they’re everywhere!

      I guess the terrain in your neighbourhood is very different to that here and less favourable for songbirds. Having said that I think we’re quite lucky here.

      • Yes, in the neighborhoods, it is quite different…but if we go further north, near the salt marshes around the Great Salt Lake, I understand that there are quite a variety of birds in the refuge up there…might get there this summer….

      • Salt marshes tend to be very fertile hunting grounds for a lot of bird species. If you make it up there I’ll look forward to seeing your photographs!

      • I can imagine that they would, Finn…and I will certainly have my camera with me. 🙂

      • Hello Scott, I’ll look forward to seeing your pictures. On which subject I shall be paying you a visit to catch up in the near future. I’ve had a fraught couple of weeks so I haven’t had time, but I shall rectify that situation very soon. And I’m looking forward to it 🙂

  3. An interesting tally Finn. I don’t get the long tailed tits in my garden which is a shame because I think they are delightful. My Mum does just 5 miles away. Still rural but closer to town. I get a lot of blue tits, great tits, greenfinches, dunnocks, balckbirds (I love the way they find a perch and sing their socks off as the sun goes down) wrens that stick to the hedge, sparrows and thrushes (not sure if they are song or mistle – must pay closer attention) doves, crows, magpies, jays, starlings and the occasional woodpecker to steal the nuts I put out. In the field next door I get buzzards and seagulls. There’s a pair of buzzards who raise a chick every year. Once the chick has fledged we watch a rather sad drama play out as parents chase the offspring away to find territory of its own. No staying at home well into adulthood for these youngsters. I was standing on the patio one afternoon as one of the buzzards swooped down and took a rabbit no more that 20 m away. They were working as a pair. At one point the rabbit, squealing like crazy, wriggled itself free and started to fall, the second buzzard closed in and took over. Quite a spectacle.
    Every summer, we get a whole flock of housemartins turn up to nest in the barns. They give fabulous displays of advanced flying technique. The only birds I’ve ever watched that seem to delight in having the power of flight and play chase with each other for hours, stopping only to line up on the telephone line and chatter noisily with each other. I’d have thought that time would be better spent catching their breath. They never fail to make me smile. I did notice there weren’t as many this year as last but given the weather, they probably had the good sense to stop of further south.
    All in all, I think bird populations, in my garden at least, are fairly healthy. Smashing pictures. 🙂

    • Thanks Adrian, your garden sounds wonderful. I love swallows and house martins, I could sit and gaze at them all day. And you’re very lucky to see the buzzards rearing young, do you have any photographs of them?

      BTW, did you do the Birdwatch?

      • I havn’t any pictures of the buzzards unfortunately at least not any close. I’m hoping to get a 300m zoom this year so will hopefully capture them then. I didn’t do the Birdwatch unfortunately, I was picked up early and taken out for the day.. 😦

      • I’m looking forward to some buzzard pictures, which 300mm lens are you after?

      • I’ve been looking at the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens which would pretty much do everything I ever needed.

      • Hello Adrian, I think that lens has very similar performance to the DX 18-300mm lens that I use. Similar price and weight too. I’ve been really pleased with mine, I get a lot of reach per pound (weight and price) and in good light especially I have got some great shots. Good luck with it, I look forward to seeing the results!

      • BTW I learned recently, when questioning why my posts were not turning up when I searched ‘Cornwall’, that if you use more than 15 tags on your posts, WordPress treat this as ‘tag storming’ i.e a deliberate attemp to get your posts to show up in irrelevant as well as relevant searches and they block you. It would help if they informed you of this when encouraging you to tag your posts.. 😦

      • I didn’t know that, the buggers! I’m a bit cross about that because I don’t add any tags that are not directly relevant to my posts so I’m not happy if I’m being blocked. Thanks for the tip off.

  4. Oh dear, your poor dog! A bit of an interrupted bird watch, but a splendid tally nonetheless. I love your picture of the dunnock, such an understated little bird but always lovely to see.

    • In the way of hounds (or people after a good skinful!) he was fine straight afterwards. He mithered me for his breakfast during the clean up operation!

      I’m glad you like the dunnock, and you’re dead right, they are wrongfully understated.

  5. That’s a lot of species in 1.5 hours! They must like the buffet you provide.

  6. Pfft…dogs will do ANYTHING to keep your attention on them! My 2 spend their whole lives trying to one-up each other often to both of their detriments. Thats a pretty amazing count. I could probably count about 4 birds in the front garden on a regular basis, the wrens, the common house sparrow, local grey cuckoo shrikes and the odd Kookaburra trying to fleece us of a small chick from the chook yard. Aside from that it is pretty quiet around here at the moment because breeding season is well and truly over and the parents are doing that most interesting thing “You dangle the food in front of junior and I will call him from the next tree…get ready to fly because MAN that kid can eat!”. Flying all over the property with a loudly crying youngster behind can’t be all that much fun but they do it every year and we get the interesting sounds of baby birds protesting the use of their wings. I must admit I had a bit of a scare the other day. I was out in the veggie garden getting some spinach for a breakfast green smoothie and I heard what could only be described as a very menacing low growling sound…the noise was extreme to say the least and I stood up quickly (forgetting that you can’t actually stand up in the veggie garden enclosure and causing the culprit of the horrifying noise to start laughing at me… it was the young kookaburra that has been raised on the property and that is kicking about on its own at the moment learning to talk and laugh. Talk about a shock…he sounded like one of those death metal bands warming up! ;). Cheers for sharing this wonderful tally. To some people in the U.K. they are “just birds” but to we antipodeans and the rest of the world they are exotic creatures indeed… by the way…why didn’t the person who imported sparrows into Australia import blue tits eh? At least they would look pretty while they were pinching your chook food!

    • Thanks Fran, that’s a vey pleasing perspective, that our wee birdies are thought of as exotic by folk from somewhere as exotic to us as Oz. Those kookaburras sound highly entertaining, I like the idea of a young bird sounding like a death metal band 🙂

  7. How do you know that the three blue tits, you noticed all at once., for example, haven’t come back several times bringing your total to 18?

    • Good question Valerie, I’m pretty certain the same ones were making multiple visits, that’s why I included both column in the table. I’ll reword the title of the second column from ‘Total counted‘ to ‘Total sightings for this species‘.

  8. You just gave me a great idea for a science observation and tally lesson for my son! 🙂

    • Learning to observe and record is an extremely valuable lesson. And if it’s repeated it starts to become scientifically meaningful. Nice one Sofia, I’d have been very happy happy with science lessons like that!

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