Monday 23 December 2013

Garden list

For the previous eight years, Our Lass and I have religiously completed a survey over the Winter months (November - March), detailing the birds that fed in our garden at Tense Towers. This is organised by the North Bucks branch of the RSPB, which covers the Milton Keynes area, and produces data that, year on year, illuminates statistical trends of the avian visitors to the gardens of its members. Citizen science at its most grass roots level - well, as we didn't have to leave the house, perhaps that should be 'carpet pile' level.

Here's a few examples of the I&T posts that have been generated from the project:

For 2013-14, for us, it was pointless beginning the survey, as Our Lass headed northwards almost as soon as the survey period commenced. I was too wrapped up in the house move to pay much attention to it and, besides, we had reduced feeding since the Spring to slowly wean our feathered friends off their reliance on free handouts.

Obviously, the move 600 miles north has brought one or two changes.

For these first two weeks, at the cottage we're renting on Burray, there have been very few actual garden visitors. All we have seen so far are a couple of Blackbirds, a small flock of Starlings, a Robin, a Wren and two House Sparrows. No other thrushes or finches, no tits, no woodpeckers, and definitely no pigeons.

I am wondering if it is possible to leave food out for these hardy souls, but I suspect that I would have to nail down each morsel, lest the fierce winds remove them to all points of the compass.

However, the birds seen from the garden... well, that is a very different story. The freshwater lochan and the closest bay of Scapa Flow hold plenty of wildfowl. The fields between the cottage and the shore also attract plenty of bird life.

After living in an inland city for 23 years, this has caused much excitement and a fair amount of loitering near the kitchen window, often from a little after daybreak...

Our Lass, on duty since breakfast...
The roll call includes Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Eider, Great Northern Diver, Little Grebe, Wigeon, Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Greylag Goose, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Hooded Crow, Raven, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Hen Harrier.

At some point, I will try to deploy Very Wrong Len.

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