Friday, 23 September 2011

Garden Birds

23rd Sept. I’m perhaps guilty of not watching the birds in my garden as much as I once did. However, I never let myself forget that this is how my interest in bird watching really began. I still remember ‘discovering’ Coal Tits in my garden many years ago and feeling at the time that I had found something really special. I had of course, and all these years later and in the intervening years I have had a pair of Coal Tits, which obviously breed nearby, visit the garden on a regular basis. Today was no exception and I found the garden to be especially busy with birds this morning. Interestingly enough, having purchased Birdwatch magazine this afternoon I found a reminder about the basics of garden feeding amongst many other interesting articles. I don’t buy the magazine, or any magazine, on a regular basis as I tend to think that for the cost of maybe four of them I could buy myself a half decent book. I do still prefer the feel of a book or magazine in my hand, despite the ease of gaining information from the internet.

I’ve often wondered how many twitchers feed the garden birds and take an active interest in them! I simply wonder because I find that some, not always twitchers to be fair, seem to find the commoner birds too mundane to warrant much attention. I’m pleased that Birdwatch magazine highlights David Lack’s works on the ‘simple’ Robin, including The Life of the Robin which I have to confess I’ve not read. It did remind me of the work done by John Buxton whilst a prisoner of war. His studies whilst in a prison camp resulted in a highly regarded monograph on the Redstart. I’ve not read that one either! I probably would if I could get a decent copy for a reasonable price. Birdwatch magazine did remind me however that there is a new monograph concerning the Kittiwake to be released by Poyser soon, so that sounds like a likely new read in the near future.

As I mentioned, the garden was busy today. My garden is small, but blessed with a tree/hedge lined pathway which is an encouragement to bird life. I consider myself quite lucky when I note the bird-less areas of often open plan gardens in the nearby vicinity. Years ago the tree/hedge lined pathway was far less disturbed. The pathway leads from the old village up to the wagon-ways and I suspect that it was once used by pitmen. I need to look into the history a little more. It’s still a pleasant walk and area despite the best attempts of some of the residents and council gardeners at destroying it. Parts of the hedge have been replaced by ugly wooden garden fences, and the gorse was ripped up years ago to be replaced by such. I feel that gardening to some minds is simply ripping things up and chopping things down. I guess that is how the environment as a whole is treated by many.

The birds in the garden today included two very active Chiffchaffs which had had drawn my attention to the garden in the first place. Between gleaning of the bushes they flew on numerous occasions to the bird bath. They hung around for quite some time. Greenfinches and Chaffinches were the other notable birds. Thankfully all looking fit and not apparently troubled by Trichomonosis (had to look that up!). Sadly I had a Greenfinch fly into the window yesterday and it is flying no more. It did give me a chance to look very carefully at its pristine plumage before giving it a burial. The Wren also appeared to be pristine. The hedging always ensures numbers of House Sparrows are about although the few Starlings are a fraction of the number that used to attend. Other birds seen in the short time I watched were Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove and Magpie, with gulls flying overhead. There are definitely more Lesser Black Backed Gulls in the area than in years gone by, although I’m not sure any were around today.

I heard the other day that there is to be another cold winter. Not so sure I place much faith in these forecasts as yesterdays forecast for a fine sunny weekend changed today to include some rain showers! However if it is to be cold again I’ll be keeping an eye open for some scarcer garden visitors. Best ‘do’ autumn first though!


  1. You're always a good read Brian. I usually agree with most of what you have to say and this post is no exception. I do have to remind myself about the "ordinary" birds when out n about occasionally but not too often, i'm pleased to say. With the odd exception i get my beloved House Sparrows in the garden but they are well looked after. Give you some idea, the missus spotted a Blue Tit feeding on the ornimetal cherry in the front garden and both of us looked at each other and lit up. We get a couple over the winter and this was the first for some 6 months. The last previous non Sparrow was a Sparrowhawk a couple of weeks ago. We get a visit once every 6 weeks or so.
    We have let the garden go wild to a level since we moved here and it has suited the Sparrows well who have quadrupled in number in the last 5 years i reckon. The next door neighbour we converted also a few years ago and she has to take some of the plaudits too. The neighbour one up on the other hand has a manicured lawn, some hanging baskets and a load of naff colourful globe shaoed lights. Very trendy i'm sure, but you never see a bird in that sterile environment. It's AWFUL. They don't know what they're missing !!!

  2. I think the gardens are rather like some of the local parks John. It often seems that the more work that goes into making them look attractive for the public makes them less attractive for the wildlife, although I reckon with a little more thought and compromise both groups could be satisfied. On my local walks I always tend to find bird life in the less manicured areas.
    Good to hear House Sparrow numbers are doing well in your vicinity. They seem to be stable here too. Cheers Brian