“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ....Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Great British Annual Bird Count

Just before I begin today, I'd like to welcome my new followers and thank them for deciding to visit me (yes I did my little dance for each one of you) but also a great big thank you to my loyal readers, whether you follow or not. 
I feel very honoured that you spend some of your free time reading my posts. 
If I just sat here nattering away to myself, it really wouldn't be any fun...besides it would just be odd and lonely! 

The Annual Big Garden Bird Watch event took place over last weekend and typically the weather turned nasty, the heavens opened and a hoolie howled. 
I'd mistakenly decided that Sundays weather would be the best day and therefore I delayed my count until then...but how wrong can one be? 
It's a good job that the Meteorological Office or the BBC don't rely on me! 
So what's involved with this great bird watch that started 35 years ago?
Basically throughout the whole of the UK on either Saturday or Sunday people sit or stand still for one hour and note all the birds that land in their garden over that hour. It can be any space whether a large garden, a little patch, or feeder hanging from a tree or window. Schools and other organisations such as youth groups or the Girl Guides/Scouts are now getting involved. It's popularity has grown with each year. 
So basically it's a wildlife survey that provides vital statistics for the RSPB 
(The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. It is a charitable organisation registered in England, Wales and Scotland. 
It was founded as the Plumage League in 1889 by Emily Willianson
It also asks in the survey for you to note what other wildlife you have seen over that particular weekend ie foxes, squirrels, frogs and hedgehogs etc. 
The information gathered is used to create a 'snapshot' of bird populations and other species around the country. It helps to highlight which birds are either on the decline or thriving and which might need our help. 
At least it made me sit still for one whole hour, which can prove quite difficult for me. 
I also found it quite stressful which came as a surprise.

(this sack is huge and full of different delights...from mealworms, sunflower hearts, multi-mixed seeds to suet logs. It reaches up to my knees and I struggle to even lift it. The photo on the right is the RSPB spring edition magazine).

With my feeders topped to the brim, fat balls swinging and tables festooned with tasty titbits, I waited for the light! And I waited....and waited....barely able to see the garden never mind the feeders but there wasn't a feather in sight!  
 Take a look for yourself...

Hmm...yeah not so good eh? 
So why do we carry out this survey at this time of year when the weather can be so bad? 
Well apparently its the best time of year for watching, as the cold weather brings the birds into the garden looking for food and shelter, plus there's less foliage for them to hide in. 
Some of my feathered friends when they did finally flutter in had trouble landing and balancing on the feeders because of the strong wind. 
As more and more braved the elements my stress level shot up...is that a chaffinch or a sparrow? A robin or dunnock? It wasn't easy in the dull light when all you could see was their outline. Binoculars, camera, notebook, phone, pen and cuppa constantly juggling made the task even harder. At one stage my daughter said "don't stress Mum" but I wanted to make sure I managed to get a proper count. I had to call in reinforcements when flutterings were everywhere. Shouting "someone get the chaffinches while I get the blackbirds" etc...phewph! 
But all in all we did good and I'm pleased to say we counted 13 different species ~ a total of 38 birds. I think the odd one might have got away but generally that was the number for that hour. I was thrilled when our two Great Spotted Woodpeckers put in an appearance and my favourite robin but alas the wren's, goldfinches and long-tailed tits never showed up in the allocated hour. Maybe they have a lie-in on Sundays?
I nearly needed a lie down myself after all of that excitement! 
But I decided instead to celebrate and unpack my new gorgeous china mug. 
It was a gift from my sister and seemed appropriate as she'd taken part in the count too. 

I'm contemplating braving the weather today in order to nip to my local garden centre in order to buy a new bird table. 
(The trouble is if I go...I could be gone for some time. I've managed to resist visiting the garden centre so far since I arrived back but it'll be very tempting I'm sure and I probably will come back with much more than just a table)
The bird table is another gift for my recent birthday...yep another year has somehow sneaked up to bite me, but I'm not reacting. 
With any luck no-one will notice Emoji
There's so much noise and people in and out of here today, I feel the need to escape. 
It's all the preparations for the new windows which are due to arrive tomorrow. 
Then the fun will really start with trying to take the old ones out and put the new ones in without any of the weather coming in. I may hide under the duvet!
And yes snow IS forecast and that's not just my forecast! 
Stay cosy or cool depending on where you are on the planet.
Have a great day and keep smiling no matter what!

Until next time...https://secure.quebles.com/content/hotmail/emoticons/1511763.gif 


  1. Well done you for persevering with the bird count. I didn't do it this year as the only bird that visits my garden at present is a big fat wood pigeon. He wasn't fat when he first started coming but as he is on his own he eats all the fat balls I put out and so has a big fat tummy. Hope the reason they are staying away is the surfeit of food in the wild this winter.
    Ann B

    1. We have a few plumptious wood pigeons too and their numbers are increasing. They are so funny to watch because they've taken to balancing on one particular bush that have red berries...sorry I'm not sure what it's called but I'll try to find out. The branches are not made for pigeons and certainly not fat ones at that!
      I always thought that if you saw one wood pigeon there would be more nearby?
      Mine don't eat the fat balls because that would mean a serious balancing act that is far beyond their means.
      They tend to tidy up all the seed etc that falls to the ground which is quite useful.
      It saves me getting the hoover out! hehe ;D
      Great to see you and hopefully I'll have some artwork to show you soon.
      Happy crafting xoxo

  2. I've heard of bird counts but never participated in one. Good for you. Seems you had quite a few visitors despite the weather.

    What a pretty cup. Hope you had a chance to get to the garden center.


    1. It was touch and go to begin with Darla without one bird in sight, but then a big rotund wood pigeon flew in and that meant game on! ;D
      I did manage to get to the garden centre finally and I had a wonderful few hours. The trouble was I did get the bird table but somehow the boot of my car filled up completely with lots of other delights! I have no idea how that happened.
      It's the same at the supermarket check-out...how does all of that chocolate get into my trolley? One of life's great mysteries ;D
      Have a wonderful weekend and great to see you.
      I'll pop across to see you as soon as I can.
      I'm needing an arty fix :D

  3. What a lovely idea.. never heard of the bird count before, when I have some time I love nothing better that to watch them in my garden..I can see why you have so many visitors to the garden with all that yummy food I'm tempted to visit myself.(lol)...Good luck with the windows hopefully they will be in place before that snow arrives...I know one little furry family member who is not going to be impressed with the noise....has muffin got any ear plugs??...Hugs May x x x

    1. There's always lots of food and goodies in this house, so don't worry if you come May...it's not just the birds that eat well here ;D
      One window in and one going in as I type...painter upstairs and electrician somewhere in here! It's a madhouse but at least the snow hasn't arrived just yet. But there is an awfully cruel wind blowing though.
      You're right, one little furry beastie isn't impressed but it's fun having so many men in the house to play footy with and generally make a fuss of her ^..^
      She hid under the covers first thing this morning.
      I'm not sure whether it was the cold or dreading the day ahead!
      Hugs to you and hopefully you'll have a peaceful, calm weekend for me

  4. I have never heard of bird counts. I suppose it's true that they are more likely to come into the gardens when they really need the bird feeders. Sounds like you all did a good job with your count despite the rotten weather.

    Best of luck with the window switch!! I can't imagine doing that in the winter over here. They probably wouldn't do it unless it was above freezing--unless it was a broken window emergency. We're one below zero right now (-18 C). Warmer than it has been, I guess. I hope they are quick at their job! :)

    1. It would have been better for photographs and bird landings if the weather had been kinder but the date is set and the count goes on no matter what.
      I couldn't visualise it either Rita, but the window switch is happening as I type...despite a biting wind but thankfully the snow hasn't arrived yet.
      I'm staying snug sitting very near to the wood burner and I'm not moving! So near there's a great possibility that I could singe my clothes! :$
      Each window going in will make help to make the place cosy, so it'll be worth suffering initially.
      Have a great weekend and keep warm too

  5. I have never participated in a bird count here in the states...sounds interesting though...and I may do that this spring as I always have lots of birds in the garden...we had a surprise snow/ice storm for us over the last couple of days...thankfully today it is in the 30's and starting to melt...

    1. It was my first officially organised bird count Wendy, but something I think I'll participate in each year. It'll be interesting to see how the numbers change.
      When we first came back to the house I never saw any blackbirds for the first three weeks, but since I've had the feeders out we now have at least four couples (Mr & Mrs.)
      Eek a snow/ice storm doesn't sound nice...maybe I should consider myself lucky that we've just got freezing rain and wind :$
      Stay cosy and have a wonderful weekend whatever you have planned.
      Thanks for popping into my place ;D

  6. Hello Neesie. Well done - a successful bird count in your garden. Our daughters usually take part. We actually had a couple of long-tailed tits in the front garden yesterday lunchtime - but don't get a huge number of birds. Across from us is a field, however - now THERE is the place for birds - hundreds every high tide! Being able to actually see the sea from our windows, means we really are close! The field often has flocks of lapwings, many curlews, there's a family of 7 swans currently eating their way across it, many species of ducks and gulls, oyster catchers, and at dusk, the starlings do their murmuration thing. We are really blessed. It's a field which, centuries ago, used to be the course of the River Conwy, but it re-routed itself for some reason - but it means this is a field at sea level, often partially waterlogged like levels, so the variety of bird and animal life is just great.
    Trust the windows all get done - enjoy the snow from within your newly warm home...
    Love to you,
    Margaret woyww #39

    1. Hehe well thank you Margaret...I try my best ;D
      Now you're teasing me with your tales of long-tailed tits. My sister has them visit her often but I've yet to have more than one fleeting glance at one.
      She also has a beautiful thrush visit her garden which I'm not jealous about...not one bit!!!
      It was interesting hearing about your neck of the woods and all of the inhabitants, especially the swan family. It sounds like you'd have your hands full with a bird count. The starlings murmuration stops you in your tracks doesn't it! Just amazing to see ;D
      It's such a privilege to have all of this on our doorsteps.
      I think the windows may take some time as there are 36 of them to change, but we've had 2 replaced so far this morning.
      Thankfully there's been no snow yet but there is a cruel biting wind :(
      Stay cosy and enjoy your weekend.

  7. Hi Neesie-

    Resisting the garden center is so hard for me! Your blog is lovely and I am a new follower.

    I look forward to visiting and reading more.

    White Spray Paint blog

    1. Hi Laura...well guess what? I didn't resist! I just went for it and not only did I come home with a large bird table, my car boot became mysteriously full of other gorgeous delights too ;D
      Thank you for not only stopping by but for deciding to follow too. I'll be great having you visit as I've lots of adventures in the pipeline.
      I'll pop your name into my giveaway too so good luck!
      Have a wonderful weekend and see you again soon :D

  8. Oh my goodness, what a time to replace windows!!!!! Hope the renovations are complete mighty soon. The bird count sounds interesting - I've read about these bird surveys in the UK and they are a good idea I reckon as birds are a real environment marker. You sound pretty busy yourself. How's the Mufty Pup? I'm looking at the photo in the margin here - very sweet.

    We have had a heat wave (which now has a definition I heard on the radio) but the last few days have been really lovely. The garden is looking okay and we've just bought a lovely flowering gum in a very large pot. Looking forward to its shade which shouldn't be too long as it's well established.

    Great to read your news, and thanks for dropping in,

    1. Hello Ros welcome to the madness ;D
      Mufftypup isn't impressed with the weather, noise from the guys but then they do make a fuss of her plus play footy so she'll put up with it. There was no moving her this morning...I think she's heard that some wildlife here sleep through the winter and she decided to give it a go. She worked her way under the bed covers and didn't come out for quite a while! Hunger probably got the better of her ;D
      I'm in touch with your weather daily as I have it on my phone and have been watching that dial go up and up but thankfully it seems to have settled. One day you had 40 degrees and we were 4!!!
      Oh your flowering gum sounds wonderful.
      I went a little crazy in the garden centre yesterday too...everything just jumped into the trolley along with a large bird table! ;D
      Enjoy your warmth and garden.
      Hugs to you too xoxo

  9. Neesie, it is nice that you do natter (even if it doesn't always follow any particular logical path! :) ) Lots of people set up a blog in a fit of enthusiasm, write maybe two posts and then stop. What's the point of that? I want the blogs I follow to consistently give me something to read, and some nice photos to look at - and I know I can rely on you in both these respects!
    Have a nice weekend. (Weather here is grim again, so I don't expect to be outdoors much).

    1. Hehe...logical path? Now that would be boring Mark and I think completely unattainable for me ;D
      Your lovely comment has delighted me...it's always difficult to know how people perceive your work. It's good to get feedback especially when it's complementary.

      OUTDOORS...are you mad?
      There's a crazy, cruel wind blowing a hoolie here today. I think we are 5 degrees but with a real feel of -4! Not nice at all especially when there are windows coming out and huge gaping holes in their place...but thankfully not for too long.

      Thanks for stopping by but enjoy staying cozy indoors for now.
      Spring will come soon ~ won't it? :(

  10. Oh I did the bird could too, I did it last Saturday. I saw 9 different birds and 19 altogether, Some of the regulars stayed away but I did see a couple of Goldfinches which was a nice surprise. Just wondered how you found my ccraftclub blog. I know it is public but I hadn't told anyone except the members of it so just curious. Thanks for the visit. BJ

    1. Hi BJ
      You did well with that amount. It can be so stressful don't you agree? Especially when the usual ones stay away. I'd have been thrilled to have the Goldfinches visit. They were here last summer but I've not seen them for months. They must be on their holidays ;D
      I went into your profile and it had two blogs so I pressed the first one. That must have been your craft club. Sorry if I shouldn't have commented there.
      Have a great week with hopefully lots of creativity!
      Thanks for popping into my place


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