Sunday, 25 January 2009

Sods Law and the GGBW

Today was a day of mixed fortune. The safari was out at dawn with Frank the Sloberador but it was still too dark to count the Magpies the roost in the tiny little copse, there's quite a few there possibly as many as 50. Then after bacon butties it was time to start recording for the Great Garden Bird Watch, but while butties were being chomped the garden was alive, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinch, Greenfinches, a couple of Woodpigeons, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Robin, and a Herring Gull on the garage roof. Then I went out to put some last minute food - big mistake! The watch started and nothing happened...nothing, no birds to count at all; a very slow start. A Chaffinch appeared and was joined by a Dunnock, not seen one of those in the garden for ages. Still slow though. Eventually the Blackbird and Robin from earlier reappeared and a Collared Dove sat in the tree for while. A flock of Greenfinches stopped by, things were looking up. Overhead was quite lively a female Sparrowhawk soared past, a Blue Tit almost hit the watching window...perhaps investigating the hole in the brickwork, where an old drain pipe used to stick out, for an nest hole. Tough...a Swift nest box is going up there shortly. Up on the tower two Jackdaws messed around and there were Herring Gulls aplenty but strangely none coming down to the lovely bread on the garage roof. Bizarrely I mentioned that it would be nice if a Grey Wagtail stopped by the pond; not two minutes later two flew over but without stopping so couldn't be counted.
Spring is getting nearer; a Collared Dove was doing a half hearted display flight...practicing? A Mistle Thrush flew over, again not seen one of those from the garden for a while, they never drop in though its too enclosed.

Right at the end of the recording time a very skittish Carrion Crow landed in our tree. Would it come down for the bread, it took ages for it to make its mind up and only just made it to the bread before time was up.

Minutes after the recording hour was up eight...EIGHT...Herring Gulls descended on the bread and devoured it in seconds...why did they have to wait so long?

And what...NO Magpies!!!

He is the crow in all its, through a salt encrusted double glazed window (excuses excuses), glory - regular not far away up the hill but a very scarce visitor to the garden.

Final count:

Blue Tit 1

Chaffinch 4

Greenfinch 4

Blackbird 1

Robin 1

Collared Dove 1

Dunnock 1

Carrion Crow 1

Just missed

Great Tit 2

Woodpigeon 2

Herring Gull 8

Black Headed Gull 3

Later back on the park spring was in evidence with Daffodils just about to flower, Robins twittering away, a Wren giving its usual high decibel lip and a Great Spotted Woodpecker battering the living daylights out of a dead branch.

Spent the afternoon sawing logs for the fire...its not spring yet and there will be a cold snap or two before the days warm up properly, it is still only January after all.

Where to next? Lets see what drifts in over the next few days

In the meantime hows spring (or autumn if you're in the southern hemisphere) progressing


Monika said...

We have a "Great Backyard Bird Count" in February that sounds similar to yours, but I think you can count anything you see. Do birds have to actually land at your feeder for you to be able to count them?

Those gulls are nothing but trouble, those rascals.

Do dead branches have living daylights? ;)

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Hi Monika

We can count anything 'using' the garden, so that's at the feeders in the bushes or on the lawn etc but not fly-overs.
Gulls ain't trouble they're brill! I love those rascals, on a really good gull day you could get 8 species here possibly more on a very very good day with a little travelling, hardly worth looking at any of the other birds with that choice available.

Yes, I'd say that the daylights are still living, despite the passing of the branch...perhaps...I hope!!!

Check out our wildlife community group's new page at