It’s that time of year again when the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch rolls around. All the cool kids make their plans and get set for an hour of counting the unique birds in their garden. As any longer term readers of this blog know, I do this every year and my 2013 and 2014 results sit in this blog too.
This year is the first since 2012 that I actually have the same garden for two years in a row, and it’ll be fascinating to compare what shows up. 2014 yielded Lesser Redpolls, Blackbirds, Siskins, Wood Pigeons, Starlings, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Magpies, Dunnocks, a Robin, Blue Tits, and House Sparrows. Even then I was lamenting the lack of Bullfinches. But I’m expecting a less diverse turnout in 2015.
So far we’ve seen no Bullfinches on the feeders this winter, they are all doing perfectly well for wild seeds elsewhere and feel no need for garden top-ups. As for the lovely Siskins and Redpolls of 2014, not a single bird so far, let alone the 20+ flocks we were seeing last year.
The reason for this change is that the weather, until recently, has been unseasonably mild. A lack of cold, a lack of the right wind direction, and an abundance of food in their summer habitats means these little finches are all happier in more remote locations. It’s harsh weather that drives them to our gardens.
Instead, we’ve kept to large flocks of goldfinches and greenfinches, and I expect the same again. Probably Blue, Great and Coal Tits. Robins, Starlings, Blackbirds. Maybe some House Sparrows. And of course the omnipresent Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves. But that may be it.
That being said, it’s obviously gone far more wintery recently so who knows what may drop in?
I’ll be out in the cold and dark tonight making sure the feeders are topped up. It’ll then be a relatively early start, a mug of tea, and a good comfy position near the window to see what comes along. As always, I’ll be sharing my results here, as well as via the BGBW site. I’ll also talk a bit about why this stuff matters so much.
Everything you need to take part is online, so make sure you find a free hour:
Good luck, and feel free to let me know via the comments what you see!