|A snap shot through the window of today's female Blackcap, the first of the winter, on the Christmas cake feeder. It appeared just after I'd finished the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, but visited on and off throughout the morning.|
As this hugely popular citizen science survey lasts only one hour, you have to time your run right. One year I had a dismal seven species, a poor showing in my small but typically wildlife-rich urban oasis in north London. Today was better, with 37 birds of 13 species actually in the garden between 08:10-09:10. In order of appearance, they were Blue Tit (3), Blackbird (5), Chaffinch (3), Robin (2), Starling (2), Goldfinch (6), Great Tit (2), Magpie (2), Wren (1), Dunnock (1), Woodpigeon (4), Collared Dove (2) and Greenfinch (4). A Carrion Crow and three Black-headed Gulls which flew over fell outside the terms of the survey but took the garden day list up to 15 species, while no sooner had I finished and entered the totals into the RSPB website than the first Blackcap of the winter, a female, appeared on the Christmas cake feeder!
Spurred on by this good showing and as I anyway often do when I’m at home for a good part of the day, I kept a window list and extended the survey into an even Bigger Garden Birdwatch. It’s my garden, my rules for the overall day list, so anything and everything seen or heard in, over or from the garden gets logged. We were out for lunch and running errands for about two hours early afternoon, which might have cost one or two list additions, but the final tally was no fewer than 24 species – equalling the second-highest total I’ve recorded in 13 years and two months of regular observation (the record is 27 species in a day).
|Goldfinches on the niger feeder acquired last autumn. At first they religiously fed on niger seed, but now will also visit any of the seed feeders.|
|Dunnock: a pair breeds. Could the third bird they chased off today have been one of last summer's offspring?|
Before this winter Goldfinches would not have been predictable, but having finally discovered it they love my new niger seed feeder. The Green Woodpecker heard unmistakably ‘yaffling’ was only the third garden record, while Goldcrest and Kestrel are both garden 'vagrants'. There were no obvious omissions, though Jay is occasional, most winters Redwing is a possibility and Canada Geese occasionally fly overhead. I’ll have a quick listen before bed for Tawny Owl, another local rarity, just in case I can reach … you never know!