Arnside and beyond

By gladders

Great Garden Birdwatch - Dunnock

The weather was not as bad as forecast today, nevertheless the hour I had chosen to do the RSPB's Great Garden Birdwatch coincided with wind and rain. This dunnock was photographed a little later when the rain had stopped.

The number of species was lower than in most years in our garden, I only recorded 12 species. The itinerant mixed flock of goldfinches (at least 40) and greenfinches (about 11) did turn up, which gave us good numbers of birds overall.   The reliable robin very nearly disappointed, turning up briefly in the last five minutes.  The more reliable trio of dunnocks were feeding on the food fallen from the bird feeders. The most notable species was the marsh tit, one individual making a brief appearance.

As so often, the hour was more notable for what was not seen than what was. As several commenters predicted, there was no sign of the pair of bullfinches seen earlier in the week. No collared doves were seen, the first time in many years I have missed them. There was also no wood pigeon, a species that has become much more regular in ours and other gardens in recent years. The starlings that roost in our neighbour's roof were a no show, though tantalisingly I could see starlings in trees 100 yards away.

Probably like everyone, I always want to see as many species as possible, and I felt disappointed with only twelve. But it's all useful data, that put together with half a million other garden surveys across the country reveals national trends of increases and decreases. The large number of goldfinches in my survey is consistent with a national trend of increasing use of gardens, whereas the absence of song thrushes reflects a national trend of decline.

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