Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 – A bumper year

If you read my preview of the Big Garden Birdwatch, you will know I suggested this year may see a drop in species number, but a rise in overall individuals. How did that prediction shape up?

The answer is, not very well. What I said was:

So I think the overall number of species may drop to 7 or 8, but if Goldfinches, Starlings and Wood Pigeons all turn out in numbers then the overall number of individuals could be up on last year.

The reality was, as the post title suggests, a record-breaker in all regards. More species, including three we’ve not had on previous BGBWs, and more birds overall. That’s without massaging the figures to mention what came later in the morning.

So, what was there between 08:30 and 09:30?

Wood Pigeons were indeed out in good numbers, 7 versus the 3 or 4 we usually see on the Birdwatch. Also as anticipated, Starlings rebounded from their dip last year with 8 birds logged (there were actually 10 out when I was filling the feeders but we never managed that in the hour of the count).

If the Goldfinches had again put forward the 4 they’ve manage the previous four years, the title would be gone. But they managed a robust 11, ensuring they are the most numerous for a second year. The Starlings have work to do to reclaim their crown in 2019.

Gold wasn’t the only colour of finches, it was a good year for several species with Siskin, Bullfinch, and Greenfinch all appearing.

After a couple of weeks without a sighting, Redpoll had reappeared on Saturday, along with the first Siskin, but they failed to show during the hour. They did however return about half-an-hour afterwards, so they are still around. But too late for the count.

Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, and Collared Dove were all recorded for the first time on a BGBW for this garden, though all three are regular visitors. Absentees from previous years were Redpoll, Wren and Carrion Crow, though the Wren was actually hanging around the front garden instead.

So for the count as a whole we had 15 species, and 50 individuals. That’s a record on both fronts. Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Dunnock and Blackbird all added to the mix, as did the magpies.

As well as the Redpoll, the morning also saw a late visit from the local male Sparrowhawk. In fact he had a few passes through the day at the buffet on offer. On the first occasion he actually landed on a plant pot on the patio, just six feet from where I was sitting! We gave each other a good visual inspection before he flew off. Sadly my camera wasn’t to-hand at that point, not that he’d have waited for his photo to be taken. Which reminds me, apologies for the quality of images, all taken through windows that need a good clean after recent weather!


This week is my final week with my current employer, STEM Learning, before I move to my new dream job with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. What this means as far as this blog is concerned is that next week will feature the last ever post (probably) from Heslington West lake, so that will be a sad moment. But the make-up of birds was changing last week, so it will be interesting to see what old friends may or may not be about.

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4 Responses to Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 – A bumper year

  1. Sally says:

    Jealous you got bullfinches and goldfinches! But we did get long-tailed tits and red kites on our birdwatch so that was lovely.

    • David C says:

      It’s funny, the day before I’d been thinking how lucky we are with such a good bullfinch population local to us. Red Kites are an impressive addition. I briefly lived in Leeds and we’d get them over the house. I miss that. Still waiting for them to get across here, it’s a matter of time.

  2. ljaynature says:

    Good luck with your new job and glad you had a lovely bird count

I welcome thoughts, comments and questions, so please feel free to share anything at all. Thanks, David

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