This was, in many ways, a classic BGBW. Topping up the feeders in advance I spotted a Tawny Owl heading home after a night of hunting. Can’t count that. As I got in and started making a cup of tea, 9 goldfinches were straight down. Can’t count them, but they’ll surely be back?
As we finally got going, the garden was deserted. We’ve had peak numbers of up to 25 goldfinches and 8-10 greenfinches the last few weeks, but the warmer and brighter morning had meant most birds could find wild sources of food. The garden feeders were a bonus, but nothing more.
As the count went on, we gradually picked up a few things. But nothing like the numbers we have had. And, like last year, a distinct absence of tits with a solitary Blue Tit our only Paridae (the family of birds that includes the tits).
It was actually a little sad submitting the results, removing species from last year and, in most cases, reducing numbers too.
But, this is important work, and something to be done properly (not tallying up all the birds you see over a day and submitting that, as some people have done!). As this bank of data builds over the years, 36 and counting, the RSPB and other conservation groups can build a picture of the changing numbers of birds. This helps identify which species are struggling, which are flourishing, and so to set conservation and research priorities. So it may seem like a fun job for a weekend (and of course it is), but it also in a real way contributes to conservation science. You are a researcher just by doing your bit!
You can read some of the stats the RSPB have built up on their website HERE.
For the record, my final count was:
Blue Tit x 1
Blackbird x 2
Magpie x 2
Starling x 9
Goldfinch x 4
Wood Pigeon x 3
Robin x 1
Dunnock x 2
Greenfinch x 2