Saturday, February 1

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

We took part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch on Monday. We have taken part in the count since it started and have kept results from 2012 so we have some idea of how the bird population is faring in our garden.

We watched the birds for an hour between 9:00 and 10:00 on Monday morning just after the bird tables and feeders had been replenished. As usual we only counted birds that could be visible from  two windows of the house that overlook the feeding area. This means that there were likely to be more birds higher up the garden or to other sides of the house but there is a limit to how much of an area two pairs of eyes can cover.
You have to count the greatest number of birds seen at any one point so the count doesn't take into account that different individuals may be visiting. Some species such as the members of the tit family are likely to be several individuals only appearing one or two at a time.

Some birds arrive in flocks scattered about the garden and constantly on the move making counting difficult. This especially applies to house sparrows and goldfinches. It would be maybe more accurate to have recorded six blackbirds as we counted five males together and then spotted a lone female but the rules don't allow for that.

Another difficulty is that in the light conditions that prevailed some birds in the trees were just silhouettes and so couldn't be easily identified.

For those of you unfamiliar with British birds, I have put together a collage to help identify the birds that we counted.
So how did our results compare to previous years?
Other than a wren none of our less frequent visitors put in appearance although I think wrens probably visit more often than we think and are not easily spotted.

Most of the usual visitors were counted although some such as the goldfinch usually turn up in greater numbers. Goldfinches are also usually much earlier to the feeders.
Click on yhe chary for a larger version
The house sparrow remains out most numerous visitor which is hardly surprising as it travels in flocks. Our count had to be based on an estimate as not only were the birds constantly on the move but they were present in different parts of the garden at the same time. Our total is at most an underestimation of the actual number present.

Overall the total number of birds counted over the years had been fairly stable with the lowest number of birds counted reflecting the poor weather conditions.
Our results were submitted on the RSPB website where a half donut chart was produced.
The only problem is that it only displays the top ten species despite others being equal in number to some displayed so I decided to construct my own chart.
There is some discrepancy in that we counted the same number of robins as blue tits and great tits, however the chart shows different percentages which was presumably necessary to give the total as 100%

The RSPB site also displays the national results to date.
This shows that our range of species is similar to the national picture although, we didn't count any long tailed tits, we do have them visit our garden.

As they did last year, house sparrows top both counts but blackbirds, goldfinches and wood pigeons are above starlings and blue tits on our list.


  1. Really interesting to see the charts and see what you recorded. Goldfinches are doing well here and we have a regular pair of black caps in the garden at the moment. Long-tailed tits fly in in a group from time to time too, they are one of my favourites. I'm hoping for birds in the nest box this year. Last year we had blue tits and a couple of years before that great tits.

    1. We have only ever spotted one female blackcap in our garden, CJ

  2. Ooh! You had a good count! I love all your charts and stats covering multiple years, very interesting

    1. We had most of our regulars show up, Belinda

  3. I appreciate the collage of birds you made for the people that aren't familiar with your garden birds. I feel like I am learning about the birds in your country. FUN. Here where I live we have three of your birds, House sparrow, Collared Dove and Starling, that come to our feeders. That being said the Collared Dove has only been here three times ever. House sparrows nest in our garden. Starling nest just across the street in a utility pole. I think the rules of view is quite restrictive. If you can tell males and females apart it seems you should put down the results. I know those little tits are impossible to tell apart. ha they are such fun to watch. We do get the wren in our county during winter. It spends its winters here. It would be a near miracle to have one in our garden as we don't have the winter habitat it likes. Nice to have all this information and the charts put it into perspective.

    1. Collared doves are regulars in our garden, Lisa, the first bre4ding 0air we’re spotted in the UK in 1955 and it’s now well established. Wrens are residents all year round here.

  4. That's interesting Sue, especially re the sparrows, we don't have any at all but I did count a flock of blue tits thirty/forty

    1. That’s a lot of blue tits, Dina. We usually have just one or two at any one time


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