Sunday, 26 January 2014


Ok so Channel 4 didn't ruin garden watch but it has definitely with a tongue in cheek approach ruined the SuperBowl, for me it was ruined last weekend when the Seahawks beat my team in the playoffs, I kind of suspected they would.
No, I was happy initially that the Superbowl was going back to Channel 4, it's were NFL coverage started in this country (before Mr.Murdoch got his hands on it) so it's kind of it's spiritual home hopefully this year unlike the BBC we won't have an endless stream of guests comparing the sport to rugby...."it's the same shape ball!", no doubt there will be a few rugby players making an appearance as there are a few who like American footie.
Oh no Channel 4 ruined the Superbowl even before the national anthem is sang with this pretty funny site a handy site given good excuses for not turning up at work on the Monday morning after the Superbowl, go and have look, very funny I thought until I realised my shift pattern includes the Monday, b******s...maybe my boss has not seen the adverts on Channel 4, he had with a yellow post-it note on my locker "don't even think about pulling a sickie Mac" scribbled on it, so no Spongitis for me.
As for the gardenwatch I managed to squeeze an hour in after work, I was not feeling positive about what might visit, my garden has been very quiet this winter so far, sure the House Sparrows are always there (they never leave) and there is a pair of Dunnocks that roost under my garage, yeah under the garage! and are always in my garden, there is always a Woodpigeon and a couple of Collared Doves, but when looking back at comparing to this time last year there hasn't been any big influx of Chaffinches into my garden and only one Fieldfare briefly earlier in the week. So during the week anticipating the Gardenwatch survey I had to go and see "what's what" and why not many birds were visiting the feeders.
 Well the first obvious clue whilst walking down to the park (where most of my garden visitors fly in from) I couldn't but help but notice many more people were hanging out feeders and with so many of them very close to the wooded section of the park, closer then my house it was kind of obvious this was one reason, good more people feeding birds that's a really positive thing as long as they're kept cleaned.
Now Eastfield Park has a really good mixture of tree species including Ash, Scot's Pine (I think it is anyway), Oak,Willow, Silver Birch and Yew trees and then there is the hedges, again with more then one species of tree making up the hedges. Given the warm and dry summer has meant there was plenty of berries on the bushes during the Autumn plus plenty of acorns laying around added to that the reedbed has shot up in size and there was plenty of food on tops of the reed.
So there was and still is an abundance of "natural" food for our wee friends to chow down negating any real need to visit bird feeders for now.
 With a so far mild'ish winter, remember we had snow this time last year, there has also been a lot of insects around, I found a butterfly last Tuesday in the woods! Take a look at the image below, the Blue Tit was busy pecking away at the trunk of the tree pulling insect lavae and grubs, look closer and you can see the holes from where it has been pecking away.
In the small wooded section it was alive with bird calls I saw and heard Song Thrush, Jays, Goldcrest,Coal Tit,Blackbird, Great Tit,Blue Tit,Sparrowhawk,Great Spotted Woodpecker,Reedbuntings,Chaffinches,Goldfinches and Treecreepers all busy feeding away on more natural food. So there wasn't any shortage of birds....phew!
What did I get well here's my last with the number of birds in brackets
Blue Tit (5), Great Tit (2), Magpie (3), Collared Dove (3), Woodpigeon (too many, 8!), Starlings (22),Blackbirds (12),Coal Tit (1),Chaffinch(1),Goldfinch (6), Long Tailed Tit (7),Dunnock(2),House Sparrow (10),Robin(1) and Black Headed Gull (2).
There was a few thing to note on the list, firstly the House Sparrows done very well this year around our housing estate, where once they covered the estate and where everywhere there was a drop in numbers and they all but vanished quite a few years back. They are slowly starting to bounce back there is now a scattering of colonies in certain parts of the housing estate and those colonies are getting bigger, why? Well I think the number of insects in the summer around here has increased there is even a man who has a fondness for bugs and over the last few years has been doing his best to increase the number and variety of species of insects also people are putting nest boxes up around here for them but I feel crucially the council isn't cutting the hedge's at the back of our houses anymore which is where they spend most of their time during the summer. Our resident Starlings haven't increased in size but the young this year were a firm favourite for a breeding Sparrowhawk and we still have 75 resident Starlings on the estate. The Gull's always visit the gardens around here, people love chucking bread out for them and isn't unusual to see Common gulls and Herring Gulls perched on the shed roof.
The biggest surprise is the Blackbirds I've counted 18 in the garden at one time (sadly not today) where did they all come from? I'm going to assume most are from an influx of foreign birds but it is definitely a weird sight seeing so many in the garden at one time, tricky to count thanks to the fighting.
Also I think the biggest winner from the summer around here has been the Blue Tit every other bird is this little gem.


  1. You got a good haul. I've seen few LTTs this winter.
    I don't even know what the Superbowl is. I'll Google it.

    1. A brief stop in rain and the birds came on in, the old house sparrows where just sitting in the bush waiting for the rain to stop.

  2. That's not a bad count for garden birds, Doug. Our numbers are down still this year, but with Greenfinch bucking the trend. I put it down to plenty of 'wild food' being available. Also had 4 Redpoll briefly this week - they were a daily occurrence for several months last winter.

    I really like that first image - captures the character beautifully!

    1. Thanks I was waiting for that blackberry to fall along with the Blue Tit :o)
      I have to agree about Greenfinches there are quite a few around sadly none visited my garden

  3. That is a nice garden list Doug, especially the house sparrows, I see one on my feeders very occasionally. However, I am seeing a flock of circa 40 Goldfinches & Green Finches that visit every day along with the odd Chaffinch and a single Siskin. The GS Woodpecker visits first light every day and I too have an influx of Blackbirds at the moment???? There is activity all day long and I put it down to white sunflower hearts, since I've been feeding them the nuts and seed are completely ignored! It is costing me around £7.00 a week though, but well worth it. So maybe if you were to feed the white hearts a few more birds may be encouraged to visit you from the nearby wooded area?.

    1. I've got white sunflower hearts and nyger seed alas no finches, all the gardens backing onto the woods seem to have the finches visiting so maybe they'll visit but at the moment they look content to stay put.
      One thing I did in Autumn was collect some blackberries and shoved them in the freezer, I then melt down some suet from the shop with some of the frozen berries mixed, wait for it to cool down and harden then place that out on the feeding table the birds especially my flock of blackbirds seem to love it and it's saved me a few pennies too.