LIKE A FISHERMAN’S TALE, it’s the one that got away that we’d really liked to have put on our list. It’s the annual RSPB garden birds survey so we move one of the sofas over to the patio windows and between 10.30 and 11.30, we record every bird we see and the maximum numbers at any one time.
After twenty minutes we have, amongst other birds, one Great Tit, three Blue Tits, several House Sparrows and a respectable total of 13 Goldfinches on our list. We’re pleased when a Coal Tit, a less frequent visitor, and a Willow Tit, an even less frequent visitor, show up briefly. No sign of the Long-tailed Tits but they typically call just before sunset to feed on the fat-balls. Bullfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch put in an appearance as I hoped they would.
It’s not until the final 15 minutes that the resplendent cock Pheasant struts up the garden path then crows challengingly when he reaches the lawn. But today there’s no sign of his coterie of hen Pheasants. Perhaps as it’s Sunday and people are out walking their dogs, they’ve headed off to a quieter corner of the woods.
It’s not people who spook the local birds this morning but our resident top predator, a large brown Sparrowhawk. All the birds at the feeders dive for cover as and the Wood Pigeons that have gathered in the tops of the Ashes at the edge of the wood take flight as the hawk makes its way up the meadow, on a straight flight-path about six feet above the ground.
Sparrowhawk, Wood Pigeons and a Jay that we see at the edge of the wood shortly afterwards don’t count for our garden birds survey because they’re not making use of our garden. Nor unfortunately can we count the female Great Spotted Woodpecker that comes and feeds from the suet log ten minutes later. We’ve seen Great Tits feeding on the fat-balls mixture in the holes drilled in the log but this is the first time we’ve seen a woodpecker using it.
Nor can we count the Siskin that shows up at lunch time!
For the Record
Birds in our back garden, in order of seeing them, were: Blue Tit (4), House Sparrow (7), Dunnock (2), Great Tit (1), Goldfinch (13), Chaffinch (1), Blackbird (2), Greenfinch (2), Bullfinch (2), Robin (1), Coal Tit (1), Willow Tit (1) and Pheasant (1).