Further information and details of how to take part at https://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/
The results of 2014's survey showed the following 'top twenty' birds - those most frequently reported in gardens; House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Starling, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Collared Dove, Robin, Magpie, Dunnock, Long-tailed Tit, Feral Pigeon, Greenfinch, Jackdaw, Coal Tit, Carrion Crow, Wren and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
|We were lucky to have this Song Thrush as a regular visitor to our old garden. Sadly their numbers are in serious decline (currently a red-listed species) and they weren't amongst the 20 most reported garden birds in BGB 2014|
Our last garden was also in the suburbs but backed onto a small area of woodland with open countryside close by so we used to get a wide variety of birds that you would associate with those habitats. Great-Spotted Woodpeckers and Nuthatches and Treecreepers (the latter never on the feeders), Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were all regularly seen and occasionally Redwings in the winter feeding on cotoneaster berries.
|Male Kestrel - a surprise visitor (taken through window)|
Another bird that we had as regular winter visitors to the garden, (and featured in our BGB records) were Pheasants, sometimes lots of them! One winter I counted at least 15 individuals visiting the garden in what tended to be single sex groups. One bird in particular, a large male, became quite tame and would run towards the french doors we had if I was spotted in the kitchen and would take bread, seed, suet pellets etc. from only a few feet away (of course he became a personal favourite!). I'm opposed to pheasant shooting (and any other variety of killing for fun/entertainment for that matter) so was quite happy for our garden to be a relative safe haven for the pheasants that managed to evade the guns.
|Male Pheasant - this individual was incredibly tame|
RSPB Big Schools' Birdwatch
In addition to the Big Garden Birdwatch there is also the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch (BSB) which this year started on the 5th Jan and continues until the 13th Feb. Similarly to the Garden Birdwatch, this involves counting the numbers of different types of birds (as well as other wildlife) seen in one hour of birdwatching but undertaken within the school environment.
The local RSPB Wildlife Explorers group have been busy at local schools running BSB sessions (though any school can take part). Starting by giving the children a little bit of background of what the RSPB stands for and does, children were given information on identifying birds and how to count them for the survey (all suited to their age groups), before being shown how to safely use binoculars and then going outside to see what they could see. I helped out at one of these sessions earlier in the week and despite fairly cold and grey weather, a great time was had by all - the kids really relishing the chance to get outside and see what they could spot - a great success with a large number of birds counted!
The totals counted just at this one school were as follows;
Blackbird x1, Black-headed Gull x52, Blue Tit x1, Canada Goose x185 (a possible record breaker???), Carrion Crow x2, Collared Dove x3, Dunnock x1, Goldfinch x2, Greylag Goose x8, House Sparrow x8, Magpie x3, Robin x1, Pied Wagtail x1, Rook x11, Song Thrush x1, Starling x32.
|The view from the playing fields showing some of the 185 Canada Geese counted|
More information on the Big Schools' Birdwatch at http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/schoolswatch/