Monday 22 April 2013

Garden Bird Survey Winter 2012-13

In a previous post, I mentioned the survey that we carry out during the Winter, as part of local RSPB branch project. It's tailor-made to help an odonatist see out the lean months of the year! Here's my submission for Tense Towers, Nov 2012 - Mar 2013.

RSPB North Bucks Local Group Garden Bird Survey 2012-13
Another fascinating five months of very local birding. Numbers fluctuated with the temperature, weather and recorder effort, but I would say that the weekly and cumulative totals were down on previous years.

Below is a brief, highly unscientific, synopsis of each species, in no particular order:

Good attenders

1. Blue Tit – ubiquitous as ever, and a real challenge to count their abundance during the Big Garden Bird Watch. Too damn quick!

2. Blackbird – constant presence and as squabbly as a room of MPs.

3. Starling – recorded every week but not as many present at a time than in previous years.

4. Robin – during one cold spell, we ended up with 4 at a time.

5. House Sparrow – a pleasing full house of attendance and in greater numbers this year.

6. Collared Dove – not as many as in previous years.

7. Chaffinch – the biggest flock we see all Winter!

8. Greenfinch – omnipresent but less in number.

9. Wood Pigeon – too many!

10. Great Tit – not as abundant as their Blue cousins.

11. Dunnock – the obligatory three.

12. Goldfinch – four fabulously feisty and fun finches.

13. Great Spotted Woodpecker – at least two every week, a male and female.

Occasional visitors

14. Coal Tit – much less visibility, only seen during 3 weeks of the survey.

15. Wren – always hard to see in our garden, though annoyingly often heard just over the fence! Only recorded during 4 weeks of the survey.

16. Carrion Crow – a growing presence due to a pair nesting in our neighbour’s garden that have raised a brood in the two preceding Summers.

17. Magpie – much more visible this year and has finally figured out the seed feeder and fat block.

18. Jay – again, much more visible this year, though this was mainly due to another neighbour putting peanuts on her bird table!

19. Long-tailed Tit – we’ve never had much luck with these cuties, but this Winter was the exception. Fat blocks, that’s the secret.

20. Blackcap – at least 2 birds present off and on through the Winter, one male and one female, though never at the same time.

21. Reed Bunting – nearly 50% attendance! However, we are near the canal. Again, male and female spotted, often at the same time.

22. Sparrowhawk – only seen during 4 weeks of the survey, but the sight of an empty garden and a small pile of feathers would point to a greater presence than that.

23. Green Woodpecker – as in previous years, only a very occasional visitor (recorded in 2 weeks) and never seen by me!

24. Grey Heron – put in a late appearance, tempted by a neighbour’s pond, which, unlike our wildlife one, contains fish.

25. Fieldfare – just a couple of sightings, but welcome nevertheless.

26. Song Thrush – a bird that we’ve always struggled to see, though they’re heard often “just over the fence”. However, sightings were up this year and I can only conclude that the wetter conditions in 2012 increased the amount of snails. And the fact that the blackbirds left it alone, for once.

27. Goldcrest – amazing Autumn visitor in the first week.

28. Siskin – as usual, turned up in March, so likely to be due to migration.

Fly overs

Black-headed Gull – again, always around but never in our garden. We discovered why when…

Red Kite – seen two gardens away and scared the life out of the crows, gulls and everything else. Investigations revealed that one of our neighbours puts out roadkill!

Jackdaw – always around, but too timid to venture into our small garden. I couldn’t count the one with a broken wing that walked in under the gate during October!

No shows

Redwing – either they didn’t put in an appearance, or we didn’t spot them.

Pied Wagtail – the first Winter when at least one hasn’t turned up.

Brambling – not this year, unfortunately.

Bullfinch – another puzzling omission, despite better numbers in the surrounding area.

Now that I've sealed the envelope, affixed a stamp and posted it off, I'm ready for Odo season (he said, hopefully).


Capt. Sundial said...

We only get Goldfinches up to 10 at a time!!!!

Imperfect and Tense said...

That's a lot of "feisty"!

Martin said...

TO add another iron into the fire: Is the feeding consistent with previous years? And does the local group ask what and how much you feed? Because diversifying the food available is likely to diversify the species, and providing food in two different locations/sides of the garden/closer or further away from vegetation is also likely to alter the numbers of individuals seen at one time. However, all that being said, you do have a rather good range of species for a typical-sized urban garden, with a fair range of habitats too.

Good luck with the odes, maybe the nice weather you are having will just promote those early ones to take flight..

Imperfect and Tense said...

Good points all. The only change, about 3 years ago, was the introduction of a fat block. Sadly, I must report that there are still no jellyfish in the pond.

Martin said...

Odonata vs Cnidaria, in a battle of who eats who, I wonder which taxa is the winner? Hopefully we will never find out.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Amen to that!