The conversation soon turned to “What did you see then?” here at The Lodge this morning.
I certainly saw less than I expected and I couldn't help thinking this was linked to the garden bird declines I spoke about on BBC Look East on Friday when the crew came to The Lodge to film. I was very pleased that the birds were performing for them though on the feeders at the shop. The cameraman got some brilliant footage of nuthatches and tits coming to the feeder after I showed them the best feeders to target. It must have been a bit of a let down to leave them and have to interview me instead talking about how there are far fewer house sparrows, starlings and song thrushes since the Birdwatch began in 1979.
My favourite garden bird - the blackbird (Ray Kennedy rspb-images.com)
It was really obvious that my own garden house sparrows were down this year. I have had up to 40 but only six appeared together at any one time. Starlings too were only at three when I've had good flocks before. Of course, availability of food elsewhere and the weather also play their part.
However, even though the numbers were down, this is important information for the RSPB as it will contribute to the national picture and also show on my own personal records that fewer birds are visiting now. There are winners and losers though as Emma's guide to the Big Garden Birdwatch cast showed last week.
I think blackbirds are my favourite garden bird. They’re always entertaining, whether its hopping around the lawn like chess pieces, or chasing each other around. There was a lot of the latter this year and I’m sure its because of the arrival of continental birds for winter, as featured in the current issue of Nature’s Home magazine.
It was great to watch one of my male blackbirds having a bath in my birdbath (Chris Gomersall RSPB-images.com)
Here’s a screenshot of the top 10 for my newly-submitted results. How do yours compare and how will the overall "Top 10" for 2019 match up?
Interesting to see that I actually saw less this year than last year when my garden was a building site, so proof that appearances don't matter for garden birds!
And don’t forget, if you think your count was down or even saw nothing, please submit those results.
My count this year was memorable for the fact that, as has happened many time in previous counts, the birds and the numbers I recorded were not the birds I expected. In my case there was heavy rain, winds exceeding gale force and temperature near zero. The grand total of birds I submitted, however, was likely higher than I have recorded recently. Birds presumably need to feed, but perhaps some birds skulk more or are unable to come to feeders.
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