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The Big Garden Bird Watch

1st of March 2011

It’s quite a few years since I took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch, but this
year I decided to have another go. One has to watch the birds in the garden for one hour
on Saturday 29 or Sunday 30 January recording the different species and the highest
number of that species one sees at any one time.
I took Ted, my dog, for his early morning walk and then set my breakfast table in front
of the patio windows. Armed with binoculars, telescope, a pad and pencil and, of
course, my breakfast, I settled down for the hour. I hadn’t finished my first cup of tea
when a sparrow hawk whizzed past the bird table trying to grab one of my pair of
robins. He did not get his breakfast, but it was a close run thing! I was well placed to
see the wildlife pond and using the telescope I could see a male blackbird having a very
splashy bath, followed by his wife. Then a pair of carrion crows came for a wash and
brush up, no need for the telescope with these big birds. The hour passed quickly and
I saw four more blackbirds bathing, but could only record two as that was the most I
saw at any one time. The most numerous birds were blue tits and long tailed tits, four
of both of these. The great spotted woodpecker came to the peanuts and also two
nuthatches, but not a single siskin and only one greenfinch, when we used to see so
many. At the end of the hour I looked at the list to see what else was missing. No Jenny
wren, until last year we always had one just outside the window. No song thrush, how
I miss the one that used to sing from our chimney pot filling the living room with its
song. No marsh tit, I can’t remember when I last saw one of these, but I remember
teaching our son, John, how to tell them from coal tits – they don’t have a white patch
on the back of their necks. John loved taking part when he was young and one of his
first computer projects was making a pie chart of all the birds in the garden. I wish I
still had it to compare with this years results. It was a very interesting hour but I feel a
bit concerned that so many old friends were absent when I thought we had improved
the garden habitat.
Wendy Bathurst

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