Counting the Birds

long-tailed tit
Long-tailed Tit
Photo taken by my father.
A couple of times every year the British charity the RSPB (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) asks the nation, or anybody that can spare an hour, to join their ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’. People can take part watching for birds in their garden or watch from a bench in their local park. The idea is to get a snapshot of the numbers and varieties of birds present in our local environment. I’ve been taking part for the last seven years, but the survey has been going for 35 years.

I did the survey this morning. It was very dreary in the winter garden, but sitting waiting to catch sight of anything alive (other than plants) I noticed how much wind damage has been done in the recent storms.

back garden in winter
Midwinter and a dreary back garden – not a bird in sight.

Twenty minutes into the hour and I still hadn’t seen a single bird, but then all of a sudden four blue tits flew in and started flitting all over the half-pruned wisteria. I’ve just uploaded my count to the survey page. I’ve definitely had less sightings this year. In a couple of weeks’ time and after a lot of number crunching the RSPB will publish an online map and report for the whole country and I will be able to see if my garden bird numbers fit with the general trend. I hope not especially as I didn’t see a single finch this year.