Okay, maybe it’s an age thing, but I did the Big Garden Birdwatch this year. Well, it takes me an hour to walk from the house to the car these days (poor feet not big garden), so I might as well do something useful on the way to somewhere better. I recorded a total of 25 species feeding in the garden during the hour. I have 3 large seed feeders (nyger/sunflower), fat ball feeders and lots of ‘apple trees’ (half apples spiked onto branches). Tits dominate by far, Great and Blue Tits are near impossible to count but there are easily 25-30 of each at any one time. Several Coal Tits are regular and a single Marsh Tit has been visiting frequently all month and duly put in an appearance.
The ‘apple trees’ are a great hit. Jays, Jackdaws and thrushes love them. Even the Blue Tits regularly feed from them. Single Mistle Thrush and Fieldfare have each ‘guarded’ an area of apples during the cold spell. The local Sparrowhawk regularly raids the feeders about twice a day. It deters the tits for a minute or two, but then the flight-line resumes. It’s a bit like a speeded up arrival at Heathrow; look into the garden and Blue or Great Tits are descending from the large tree to the feeders every few seconds, one after another. Unlike Heathrow, they increase their arrival rate in the snow. A quick wait on the arrival branch, onto a spare perch on the feeder, and then away.
I’ve been in this house for about 9 months now. The commonest bird in my last garden was Redpoll, with up to 40 on and around the nyger. Greenfinches were the commonest birds on the sunflower feeders. Just 11 miles away, the avifauna of my new garden has a very different feel. No Redpolls, very few Greenfinches and zero House Sparrows or Starlings. Although both gardens are located close to woodland (then Epping Forest, now Broxbourne Woods) the current garden has far more woodland birds, with Nuthatches, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers all visiting daily. However, the highlight of the new garden has been the occasional visits of up to three Hawfinches over the last month. One briefly appeared in a tree at the end of the garden yesterday, but they have failed to come down for seed so far.
Count completed, I did then sneak out for a quick look at the nearby Caspian Gull. Oooo don’t you just love those tertials? Hmmm maybe not that much.
Pics above: Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, a busy day on the feeders, Blue Tit on 'apple tree'.