Bumper Big Garden Birdwatch this year!


As I posted yesterday, this weekend is the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, the world’s largest wildlife-watching event, and one that’s been running for 36 years.  I completed my hour of surveying between 09:04 and 10:04 this morning, and it’s been a bumper year!  Armed with a notebook, binoculars, and a cup of coffee, I recorded all the different bird species I observed in the field of view from the tall silver birch to the left across to the patch of brambles on the right (my “garden”, as you can see, encompasses parts of my neighbours’ gardens too).

In 2013 (the first year I did the BGBW at this house) I recorded a disappointing 6 species; in 2014 it was 8 species; this year it’s been a whopping 15 species!  They were (in order of first observation, with numbers of birds):

Robin – 1

Collared dove – 3

Chaffinch – 4

Dunnock – 3

Magpie – 1

Blue tit – 4

Coal tit – 1

Lesser redpoll – 4

Blackbird – 4

Greenfinch – 5

Carrion crow – 1

Great tit – 2

Wood pigeon – 2

Goldfinch – 4

Blackcap – 1

Not bad for an urban garden!  Did you do the BGBW this weekend?  How many species did you count? Was it a higher count than last year?

13 thoughts on “Bumper Big Garden Birdwatch this year!

  1. Helen

    Unfortunately, even though I had had a mind to do the survey it didn’t happen. I’m not very good on species but at a pinch I would say I regularly get four in my garden: pigeons, sparrows, robins and blackbirds. There are also magpies and blue tits – or maybe they are chaffinches! Anyway, I had noticed a larger number of birds this winter, which is most pleasing.

    I am glad you too have noticed an upward trend.

    1. jeffollerton Post author

      Neither; I think that there’s just a huge stochasticity in the number and diversity of birds that you can see in an area in an hour! Weather was also relatively mild compared to previous years, but that goes against received wisdom that birds move into urban areas when it’s cold.

  2. Renate Wesselingh

    I’ve participated in the bird counts in Walloonia (southern part of Belgium), organised by Natagora , since 2010, the 2015 count will take place on 31 Jan-1 Feb this year. The instructions in the previous years were to specifically watch the bird feeder and note the maximum number of individuals per species observed, but that has been relaxed this year (I think people reported other bird observations anyway, and I started doing as it well lately). My results up to now (in a village garden surrounded by other gardens and a pasture/orchard on one side):

    2010-2-6 8 species, 18 individuals
    2010-2-7 11 species, 27 individuals

    2011-2-5 9 species, 19 individuals
    2011-2-6 10 species, 28 individuals

    2012-2-4 9 species, 16 individuals
    2012-2-5 12 species, 33 individuals

    2013-2-2 8 species, 19 individuals
    2013-2-3 12 species, 33 individuals

    2014-2-1 8 species, 22 individuals
    2014-2-2 13 species, 30 individuals

    Sundays are always better than Saturdays, could be a matter of how much time is spent watching.

    This is last year’s Sunday list (the ones with * were not on or near a bird feeder):

    Accenteur mouchet (Dunnock) 1
    Choucas des tours (Jackdaw) 2*
    Corneille noire (Carrion crow) 1*
    Grive draine (Mistle thrush) 1*
    Merle noir (Blackbird) 1
    Mésange bleue (Blue tit) 3
    Mésange charbonnière (Great tit) 2
    Moineau friquet (Tree sparrow) 9
    Pie bavarde (Magpie) 1*
    Pigeon ramier (Wood pigeon) 2
    Pinson des arbres (Chaffinch) 1
    Rougegorge familier (Robin) 1
    Verdier d’Europe (Greenfinch) 5

    I’ll keep you posted about this year’s results. In the Netherlands (one week earlier than the UK), a record number of chiffchaffs has been observed.


      1. Renate

        The total species numbers hide the fact that species composition can be quite different from year to year, I could actually calculate turnover (says the scientist). I haven’t seen any tree sparrows yet this year (or house sparrows, for that matter), other hit-and-miss species are the long-tailed tit (or rather tits, because they always come in groups) and the great spotted woodpecker. I saw a male of the latter today, so he’s in.

  3. fodrambler

    15 species is a good count. I got 10 but an hour isn’t very long. there were quite a few species like the Collared Dove that do visit every day but just didn’t happen to drop in during that hour. I note that you didn’t see any House Sparrows, they are thriving here but I am on a farm, out of town. Maybe we are going to have to rename them.

    1. jeffollerton Post author

      Yes, as you say, an hour isn’t a lot of time and it’s a bit hit and miss as to whether a particular species is seen or not. We do get house sparrows in the garden but never in great abundance. Yet I know that they are more abundant further down the street, so perhaps there’s local competition between different species separating them at a fine spatial scale?

  4. Pingback: Something for the weekend #5 | Jeff Ollerton's Biodiversity Blog

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