Big Garden Birdwatch 2020

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about my preparations for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and yesterday we carried it out. The day was a bit overcast but not too windy and no sign of rain. Alice was helping out as it has been set as her school homework for this month. She helped prepare by making pine cone fat feeders.

We tied the string to the pine cones.

Then we mixed seed and lard.

Then we moulded it around the pine cones and placed in the fridge to set.

Then these have been placed hanging off the back gate. I don’t think the birds will be that bothered for them but I like to make something with Alice so she’s been involved. We made the Cheerio feeders last year so fancied something different this year.

We set ourselves up inside with notebooks and field guides and binoculars ready to record our sightings. Alice was very excited to write down her sightings using her My little pony multi-coloured pen. She wanted to choose colours to match the birds.

I had discussed in an earlier blog my hope that I might have the greenfinches or blackcaps in to add something different to my list but it wasn’t to be. That said, we did have a good number of birds coming in and in large numbers. The results are as follows:

  • Common gull 2
  • Wren 1
  • Starlings 6
  • House sparrows 17
  • Wood pigeon 3
  • Blackbird 4
  • Blue tit 2
  • Collared Dove 3
  • Crow 1
  • Robin 1
  • Dunnock

Of the regulars, the finches were noticeably absent and the great and long-tailed tits. But we still saw double figures of species and a good number of each. Next doors cat was patrolling the garden for much of the time so I don’t think that’s too bad a number. When I first put the feeders out I didn’t have anywhere near the number of birds visiting.

There is still time to do a count today and tomorrow if you haven’t already taken part. Even if you have you can still submit multiple counts. Having done one count with Alice I may try for one on my own so I can focus better in case I missed anything on this one. Alice had good fun though and she is naming more of the birds correctly which at the age of three I think is good going. Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekends and if you are taking part in the count you get to see plenty.

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12 Days of Wild Christmas: Day 5

Today we made it out for a brief walk around Hornsea Freeport. Not the wildest location for 12 days wild. But Alice and I have been wearing our wildness the last week. She had one of the RSPB badges with a robin with a Santa hat on, while I have a robin on a holly branch. Alice’s has been put down somewhere in the house but don’t know where. I’m sure it will turn up after the Christmas period is done and she’ll then insist on wearing it. One of the cafes at Freeport stocks the collection box, so she choose a new badge. We looked through as she was asking which we got in our garden. We had a choice of several finches, sparrows and butterflies.

Alice went for the peacock butterfly, a regular visitor to our garden in summer and sometimes into autumn.

I’ve also done my bit for promoting the Wildlife Trust wearing my bug shirt. Alice always likes asking me about the different insects on this one.

My gardening jacket is gradually filling up with the wildlife that visits the garden.

Back at home, there doesn’t seem to many signs of life in the garden. A bird of prey seems to be circling the area. Combined with the wind there isn’t much visiting the feeders today. The wren and dunnocks are sticking to the shelter of the shrubs and the sparrows are flitting in and out. The pots are showing signs of things to come, though I think the weather will probably go colder again slowing their growth. Time to settle in the warmth inside with a fire and a good book and chill out.

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12 Days of Wild Christmas: Day 1

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are having fantastic days spent celebrating however you prefer. Today is the start of the Wildlife Trusts 12 Days Of Christmas. For 12 Days from the 25th December to the 5th of January, I will be looking for different ways to engage with nature. These can be little things like feeding the birds, going for a walk in nature or admiring the winter sunset. It’s not too late to sign up to show your support for nature. Go on the website, sign up, it’s free, and you’ll be added to the map.

birdwatch

As today I imagine many you will be overwhelmed with commitments I am suggesting an act of wild that you can do from the comfort of your own sofa while waiting for visitors. During the weekend of the 25th January to the 27th of January, it is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. For one hour you sit and watch the birds and record what comes in. It is free to take part and you don’t need to be an RSPB member. This survey provides valuable information about the increases and decreases in bird populations so conservation efforts can be targetted.

BLue tit 3

I’ve taken part the last few years and have usually found my garden just manages double figures of species. Last year was a bit low with building work going on and wet weather. The builders still have some jobs to come back to a year on so they may have people in and out in the run-up to it. But in order to maximize the birds that come into your garden, I have a few tips.

  • Put out a variety of foods: seed, suet, fat balls, mealworms or meat scraps. Different birds favour different food.
  • Use feeders at different heights. Some birds such as the blackbirds eat from the ground, some like the feeders in cover near shrubs, others need more space around the feeder.
  • Clean the feeders beforehand. This stops the spread of diseases between birds.
  • Provide water sources in the garden. During winter water is often frozen so the birds will come in for water as much as food.

Enjoy your Christmas Days and I hope you all have wonderful days.

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30 Days Wild: Idea 22-Get closer to the grass

Previous years I’ve walked barefoot on the grass but as Alice doesn’t like going barefoot very much we’ve just looked today at getting closer to the ground. While she might not like going barefoot she is quite happy rolling it and sniffing it.

Grass has many potential benefits. It can improve air quality by capturing carbon and it acts as a pollution filter. Areas of grass stay cooler than many hard surfaces. Then there are the mental benefits of green spaces. Green spaces can lower blood pressure and help mental well-being. Well worth celebrating and getting a bit closer with to connect with.

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30 days of wild: Idea 18-Listen to birdsong

With the break in the rain, the birds are back out in force. The dusk chorus has been singing away and it was a joy to listen to.  Taking a few minutes to sit and listen to birdsong is a simple pleasure but a very enjoyable one. Earlier in the year, the RSPB put birdsong in the chart with let nature sing. If for some reason you are unable to get outside or to a spot you can hear birdsong through this track and it gives a donation to the RSPB.

Robinhead

While it is nice to hear the songs I’ve been working on tuning into the bird’s songs to be able to identify through their sound. The RSPB has a new book and CD set out to help identify birdsong. Earlier in the year, I was gifted this lovely set that gives details of each bird then has tracks it plays through a built-in speaker.

For a free option, the long-running BBC Tweet of the day gives you a way to gradually build your knowledge. There is a massive back catalogue of episodes to listen to all for free. With many people following this blog for my gardening content you may enjoy Monty Don on the return of the swallows.

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30 Days Wild: Idea 17-pick up litter

Today might not be the most glamorous act of wild but it can make a huge difference. Wildlife can suffer very badly with waste humans have left. More an more plastic has made it into our oceans. It is now thought that this may be having an impact on us through the water we drink and the food we eat.

Just picking up one or two pieces of rubbish during the day could save an animal. My local community is aiming for the plastic-free beach. They have set up a beach hut where on weekends you can go pick up a litter picker and a bucket to collect. Across the country, there are many 2-minute beach clean stands. I keep a set of work gloves under the pram for if we find anything on our strolls. It doesn’t take any time out of the day but helps make a difference to the community and wildlife. Our beaches are much cleaner since these initiatives began. On recent strolls, I’ve hardly found anything. The main find being cig butts.

30 Days Wild: Day 13-snap something blue

For today’s 30 days wild idea I’ve gone with an easy one I’ve done in previous years. Try to take a photo of something blue. If it’s a nice day you hopefully have the easy option of a quick photo of the sky.

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Or how about a cornflower.

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Or spend a bit of time chasing damselflies trying for a photo.

What can you find in nature that is blue today?

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