Thursday, February 2

Bird count results

We carried out the Garden Bird Count on Saturday and despite the dull conditions were off to a promising start with six individual blackbirds visible at the same time. At times we have counted more. 

I always used to think that the territorial nature of blackbirds meant that there would only ever be one pair in our garden but once we started watching the birds we realised that this was far from the truth. On a morning, often our blackbirds sit watching doors and windows for signs that food is coming out. As soon as the door opens it is a race to be the first bird at the bird table. Often it is a case of which bird dares to station themselves nearest the table ready to dive in as soon as Martyn's back is turned. They then seem to patiently take turns until everyone has manged a mouthful. After the initial round of grabbing a snack, blackbird wars break out with lots of open beaked threats and dive bombing.

So our count results were as follows.
Below is a chart comparing the results over the last few years.
The total tally is up over the previous year but some species have surprised us. Usually when long tailed tits visit the garden they come in a group. We rarely see a lone bird but on this occasion we saw just a single bird.

One bird that we miss is the goldfinch. A large flock of goldfinches used to be regular visitors. There was rarely a time that we looked out of the window without there being a couple on the sunflower hearts feeder and several picking up crumbs beneath it. In 2013 this species topped our chart and even then the number spotted wasn't as high as on many occasions when we counted 15 or more birds. Now they are only very occasional visitors.

Below are our results displayed a different way.
Other than a blip in 2013 the house sparrow has been our most numerous species. They are quite difficult to count as they rend to move around a lot and also hide in the trees so there may have been even more than we managed to spot as we have to focus on just one area of the garden.

Although we counted a few starlings we didn't have as many as usual. They usually move in after the first bout of blackbird dining and draw our attention by way of their squabbling. The window by one of the bird table bears testimony to their messy eating habits.

Blue tit and great tit numbers visible at any one time are never high as they tend to quickly grab a morsel from a feeder or table and quickly make off with it to eat in the relative safety of a bush. For this reason I would guess that we actually had more individual visitors than the count suggests.

Once I had submitted my results the Bird Count site created a chart showing the proportions of the various species counted to make up my top 10 birds.
The chart above only shows our top ten and, despite us counting the same numbers as the blue tit, collared dove and goldfinch, the magpie and long tailed tit were missing so the chart doesn't provide fair picture.

The top 10 nationwide at the time that I submitted my results were.
Generally it seems that the bird species visiting our garden roughly correlates to the national picture. The chaffinch was missing from our count although we do see them fairly frequently in our garden. 

The dunnock didn't, at that point, feature in the national top 10 but I think it is like the wren an easy bird to overlook except when in full song. Also it is often mistaken for a sparrow.

We didn't see any of our less frequent visitors but it is against all odds for them to appear during the count.

I guess the RSPB are satisfied that the organisation of the count provides them with the information that they need, but it is really frustrating to be limited to a single hour. We find different species are more likely to be spotted a different times during the day so the time chosen will skew the results.

Also for the last few weeks for some reason out feeders have been slow to empty. This happens at certain times throughout the year. At others times we are hard pressed to keep then filled.

A further variable is the prevailing weather, for instance if it is frosty lots of birds will visit the thawed bird baths. I wonder whether this is taken into account?


14 comments:

  1. I like the pie chart. At this time of year I have some similar birds: mourning doves, band-tailed pigeon, house finch, goldfinch, English sparrow, bushtit. But there are many more corvids, ravens, crows and jays, sparrow-type sparrows, and of course, the darn parrots, so noisy. Have you tried nyger seed for the goldfinches?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We provide a wide range of food, Jane including niger seeds although the goldfinches used to prefer the sunflower hearts that we still provide. We are wondering whether work done on a nearby embankment has had an effect as the goldfinches and long tailed tits used for like the bsuhes growing there which have now been cleared.

      Delete
  2. I didn't do it this year. The birds are only just starting to return following our break in service. Perhaps I should have. Would that have given a better picture of the birds naturally visiting the garden or disguise the true population? Presumably our birds are still around, maybe patronising next door's feeders. But then our neighbours don't do the count. There are so many variables. The numbers must all even out in the end.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'msure thar your bird numbers will swell again soon, Jessica.

      Delete
  3. It could be as you suggest the removal of their preferred habitat and nesting site that explains the reduction in goldfinch and long tailed tit numbers. I think the count should be done over a longer period spread over a day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An unforseen consequence of working on the motorway, Brian. I hope it all regrows.

      Delete
  4. Wow! that's huge database of birds visit Sue!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The birds on our lost are quite common, Malar

      Delete
  5. Really interesting Sue, one garden bird that I miss is the Greenfinch, I used to see quite a lot of those but hardly ever now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the finch disease affected greenfinches badly, Annie

      Delete
  6. The chaffinches have been rare visitors just lately here but they've returned over the past week or so but I hardly see any greenfinches now. The goldfinches are still regular visitors. I get lots of different tits in the garden but have never seen a long tailed tit though they were regular visitors at the allotment which isn't that far away from here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our most common bird visitor changes over the years, Jo. I do miss the goldfinch flock though.

      Delete
  7. We feed the birds regularly and attract a wide variety to our garden. However, they have not repaid the courtesy by presenting themselves during my session of the Big Birdwatch, so I didn't participate this year. I was interested to see your results and keeping your annual tally is a great idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am thinking of doing my own unofficial count monthly, L

      Delete

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment - it is great to hear from you and know that there are people out there actually reading what I write! Come back soon.
(By the way any comments just to promote a commercial site, or any comments not directly linked to the theme of my blog, will be deleted)
I am getting quite a lot of spam. It isnot published and is just deleted. I have stopped sifting through it and just delete any that ends up in my spam folder in one go so I am sorry if one of your messages is deleted accidentally.
Comments to posts over five days old are all moderated.