As many of you know, this weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, during which you spend one hour counting the birds you see in your garden and reporting the numbers back to the RSPB, contributing to an important piece of citizen science. As I am writing this, over 18,000 surveys have been submitted for this weekend's count already.
I had spent this morning birding at Winsford Flash, so I didn't do my count until the afternoon, by which time the wind had really got up and the garden was quite empty. The back field however was full of Winter thrushes; Redwing and Fieldfare in their hundreds were feeding just behind the back fence. Temptingly close to count, but I stuck to the rules.
The field had been planted with fodder beat for the sheep, but the sheep have eaten most of the leaves and stalks now, leaving a great muddy feeding acre or two for the birds.
Over the last week, the thrushes have been joined by large flocks of Pied Wagtail, Jackdaws, Starlings and Gulls.
So I sat down and started the count at 13:22. Within minutes I had Jackdaw and Blue Tit on the list and then about 10 minutes of nothing. But then a huge Buzzard soared across the back field causing a bit of birding panic. Fieldfares and Redwing took flight, and were carried off by a massive gust of wind. And guess what? Well that big gust landed 8 stunning Redwing and 5 Fieldfare right into the tree in the garden. They hung around until they were confident that the Buzzard was more interested in worms than them, and so the bird count list rose to 4 species.
Fieldfare in the garden tree
And then the usual suspects started to show up, despite the strengthening wind. The final count and numbers per species was as follows:
Starling - 10
Redwing - 8
Goldfinch - 7
Collared Dove - 5
Fieldfare - 5
Jackdaw - 4
Blue Tit - 3
House Sparrow - 3
Blackbird - 2
Greenfinch - 2
Dunnock - 1
Great Tit - 1
Robin - 1
Magpie - 1
So a final count of 14 species and 53 birds. The missing regulars included Chaffinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren and Coal Tit.
How did you get on with your counts?