January, 2012

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Notes on nature

We love nature... from every little bug on a blade of grass to birds, butterflies, otters and oaks!
  • Monday's Magic Moment: hanging on

    Would you dangle upside down to get a meal? It's all part of everyday life for a nuthatch - one of my favourite birds to watch. They're not afraid to hang upside down or run headfirst down tree trunks while looking for food. But then they have long, curved claws to help them hang on to the bark.

    I wonder how many people saw nuthatches at the weekend as part of Big Garden Birdwatch? Send us your results and we'll be able to find out!

    Visit RSPB Images to browse thousands of gorgeous photos like this one, taken by Steve Round.

  • This weekend...Take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch

    WBig Garden Birdwatchell, it’s finally here. The big weekend. You’ve done the preparation, you can only sit back and watch.

    Which is exactly what we want you to do! For just one hour on either Saturday or Sunday please sit down, take a look out of the window and count the birds in your garden. Oh, and then submit your results, even if you don’t see anything. We still need to know.

    For more information on how to take part see the Big Garden Birdwatch website. It’s so simple!

    All welcome

    I’ll be taking part too, I wouldn’t dream of missing it! I’ve been doing the Birdwatch since I was fresh-faced youngster staring hopefully out of the patio doors, watching entranced as blue, great and coal tits flew to and fro on their own little missions.

    Back then it was only for YOC (now Wildlife Explorers) members. I’m glad that in 2001 the powers that be allowed adults to take part too! Last year 609,177 people took part. Where you one of them?

    Tactics

    They’re pretty simple, my tactics. But it’s my last Big Garden Birdwatch in this house, so I’d like it to be a good one.

    I don’t have a garden, there’s a few plants to attract insects, ivy on the walls where blackbirds nest in spring and a tree across the courtyard. Hung there is a feeder. Or, as it’s known in my house, the ‘finch swing’, on account of the number of finches regularly seen on it! Green-, gold- and chaffinches are all regulars. The goldies appeared just after my Birdwatch hour last year, so I hope they’ll turn up during it this year.

    Woodpigeons, collared doves, blackbirds and dunnocks skulk around underneath the feeder, hoovering up any seeds the messy-eating finches drop. I know it’s not a competition, but two years ago I scored a record 12 species. Star bird that year was a blackcap. More of these migrant warblers are spending their winters in the UK and with this year’s mild winter, perhaps we’ll see a few more this year.

    Tradition

    So, I’ll be watching early(ish) on Saturday morning, with my trusty Birdwatch bacon sarnie. It’s all part of the tradition, it just wouldn’t be the same without my bacon sarnie! I’ll let you know what I see.

    What are you hoping to see? Do you have any Birdwatch traditions? Let me know and share in the fun of the world’s largest wildlife survey.

  • Is anybody there?

    Woodpigeon perched on bird table, looking at camera.

    I'm not going to lie - the Birdwatch can be a worrying time.

    What biscuits will I have with my cup of tea? Can I sit in my favourite chair and still see the garden? Will the birds know I'm watching them and not turn up?

    Ok, so I'm being silly about the first two, but every year we get people telling us that during their hour Birdwatch their usually bustling 'bird-opolis' of a garden is strangly empty.

    Now some of this is just bad timing. Not many people have the luxury to be able to stare out the window all day and see that actually there are quite a lot of periods of bird inactivity in their green space. This is perfectly normal - most birds wander over a wide area in search of food.

    However, some of it might be due to slightly less obvious reasons.

    Just as the cold weather of previous surveys brought a surge of birds flocking into gardens, so the incredibly mild weather of late could have the opposite affect. With the countryside not covered by frost and snow there have been plenty of berries and insects still available for our birds to eat.

    It'll certainly be interesting to see what kinds of birds people are seeing this weekend, and in what numbers.

    Which is why no matter if you saw 20+ or no birds at all, we still really want your results.

    Happy Birdwatch everyone. And in case you're wondering, I'm rather partial to custard creams. Although ginger biscuits are always tasty. No, hang on, make that bourbons....