Have you ever heard of the Observer Effect? It’s an idea in physics, sometimes bracketed in with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (incorrectly so). It basically says the act of observing something changes the thing you are observing. It has truth in physics, and in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.
For the last fortnight there has been a substantial mixed flock of finches around our village, and this has seen as many as twenty Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Siskins and Bullfinches land in the garden. But as soon as we start sitting and counting them, almost nothing.
The count ran an almost identical time-slot to 2016, 9:37-10:37. Within the first fifteen minutes ten species had been ticked off from the fifteen that are regularly seen in our garden.
About fifteen minutes from the end a Sparrowhawk flew overhead (can’t count that) which pretty much spooked all other birds, bar two Dunnocks that put in a last-minute appearance to take the overall species count to twelve.
Starlings dropped to a mere two, though there had been five just a minute before I started counting. This from a high-water mark of twelve last year.
The new champions were the Goldfinches, recording four individuals. This was a reward for consistency as we have recorded four individuals every time we’ve done the count here. The full results were:
3 Wood Pigeon
2 Blue Tit
2 Great Tit
Overall numbers were low, with just 26 individuals across the twelve species seen. That’s the lowest we’ve had here. I don’t think it’s a source of concern though. It’s been mild, there are plenty of natural food sources around, and this morning was warm and sunny which probably made the birds feed away from the garden.
Still, more points on the graph and a notable first appearance for Great Tits on this count.