Well the snow has arrived in good time for Big Garden Birdwatch next weekend. It's been driving good numbers of birds into people's gardens - and some unusual visitors too. Reed buntings, redwings and fieldfares, pheasants, bramblings and blackcaps have all been found by people I know in my home county of Cambridgeshire over the weekend.
I went to town keeping my birds well fed over the weekend, with a whole range of food from the RSPB birdfood range (sorry for the shameless plug, but 100% of profits go to our conservation work), including Buggy Nibbles, fat balls, feeder mix, suet pellets with raisins and bugs and more all helping out the birds. Many people have been reporting fieldfares in their gardens with fallen apples doing the job (I spiked mine on a branch and the blackbirds loved them). Redwings and fieldfares (below) have been suffering that's for sure and I've come across several redwings that allowed approach to a few inches - clearly exhausted and very hungry and tired.
I went for a long walk out from home on saturday and found a superb flock of 600 skylarks in the field next to my garden - I was surprised they'd stuck around with snow covering the ground, but a row of stubble left by the farmer had provided them with plenty of food. I'm not sure I've ever seen such a big flock actually.
So this week I'd recommend stocking up your feeders and getting the birds warmed up for Big Garden Birdwatch next weekend. It could be a great birdwatch with some good counts, so please make sure that you take part and tell the RSPB about your garden birds. There are some more tips for the Birdwatch in the current issue of Birds
Thanks for all your positive comments about the latest issue of the magazine by the way. Glad so many of you are enjoying it. We're on course for the most e-mails ever received in a single month for Birds magazine, so keep them coming. It was good to have a few complaints about me not posting a blog as usual on Friday - glad some of you are reading and sorry!
Hi there to Dwayne carr yes I am up late most nights I find it quite so I sit in what I call my PC room sometimes quoting for work or doing a bit of research then before I know it its 2 or 3 in the morning I do work in my pc room during the day and its quite good as my room looks straight out to my back garden and then farmers fields with sheep in so I have picked a tree in line with my window loaded that one up with nuts seeds coconut shells apples and spare bits go on the floor on a tray determined to attract more wildlife so I can look out and see the birds but I think the sheep want to come in for a free meal LOL
And hi to Mark Ward I shall read your post when its done, tomorrow looks like a great day actually forecast sunshine and no rain (it changes back for the rest of the week) so am going to try and pop over tomorrow (wed 30th) with my trusty camera I think the earliest I will get there will be mid morning (10-11 am) as I made myself a resolution to visit the lodge before the end of January (only 2 days left) so Ive cut it a bit fine but looking forward to it some of the birds you mention I don't even know but I am sure by having a walk round and catching a few on the camera I will soon learn what they are
Come to The Lodge at the moment and you'll see siskins and redpolls on the feeders (especially at the shop and in front of the hide) plus nuthatches, all sorts of commmoner finches and tits and great spotted woodpeckers all posing for your camera. Crossbills and ravens are around too most days. Come and give it a go!
Bad luck on the blackcap Dwayne - very honest of you not to include it in your count. I had a sparrow back the day after the count which was annoying!
PS. about to post about my Birdwatch now.
I had a very brief visit from a blackcap but didn't include it in my BGBW. Saw 15 species with the largest concentration of greenfinch with 7. Good to get house sparrows back though as they have been missing for a while in my garden.
You seem to be a night owl Rodney with the time of your posts...
Thats great to hear I read your blog as well I live in south milton keynes and have most of this week off so I want to try and make it over to the lodge at sandy that seems to be the nearest to me still trying to make time each day to get a couple of shots and its amazing once you start looking and listening how many birds you notice even down to the quick visit to McDonald car park for a quick bite how many birds seem to hang around for some food have to take some seeds with me next time as the salty chips someone was throwing them prob wont do them a lot of good and I noticed after the birds have a couple of them bits they go straight to a puddle for a drink be in touch soon good luck with anything your on at the moment
Great to hear from you. A big welcome to the RSPB from me and Birds magazine!
That's a really nice shot of the blackcap. You've captured it in a really unusual and interesting pose. I like the way it is eyeing up your fat cake. Funnily enough, there is a little twist to the tale for me involving a blackcap and Big Garden Birdwatch. I'll be blogging about my Birdwatch this week, so maybe we can compare notes.
Please keep all your results coming in - even if you didn't see as much as you expected - as we are on course for a BIG year in terms of numbers of results that come in, I am hearing from my colleagues at RSPB HQ today...
Just joined on Friday the RSPB that is and yes I am in on the great garden bird watch so looking forward to the magazine too I read your blog and what was funny you are waiting for a black cap in your garden and I had one today and didn't know it lucky I took some photos and asked what it was and another member wrote back and told me what it was here is a direct link to my photo img.photobucket.com/.../Lsnow30.jpg my photos are improving as I am learning to use my camera in av mode and manual look forward to the next mag hears wishing you good luck on bird sightings for Sunday
Glad you like the latest issue - thanks very much!
Glad you're up for the count tomorrow. My garden is still lagging behind everyone else's it seems, but I know that being right next to sensitively-anaged farmland means that the birds have plenty of food "over the fence" thanks to the farmer.
Good luck on your count - let me know how you get on. I'll be reporting back on my Birdwatch next week...
My garden has proved a little disappointing although hoping that I might pick up some decent birds on my count tomorrow. Have had a lesser redpoll and a regular song thrush which after hours of searching through the snow managed to find and smash through a snail shell. Great to have so much activity that much closer than usual to enjoy.
The latest birds magazine is excellent and the front cover photo is a real cracker.
I received a great photograph from a reader who has used a parasol to keep the snow off the ground, so birds can feed on food placed there. I'm planning to publish it in the next magazine. The thaw is setting in here in Bedfordshire, so I think the birds will be finding it slightly easier going for the Birdwatch this weekend. I wish I could get a blackcap on my feeders though...
I had fieldfares eating the red pyracantha berries in my garden this morning. Usually get redwings, but not seen them this year so far. Heavy snow this afternoon - I'll need to sweep a clear patch to feed all the blackbirds tomorrow. There are about 10 of them eating everything in sight every day! One daily visit from a male blackcap - he likes the fat feeders best.
Birds designer Joel gripped me off this morning (birdwatcher's slang for making someone jealous with a bird sighting in case you're wondering!) with his casual mention across the office of a woodcock, blackcap and fieldfares all visiting his neck of the woods. Definitely a case of must try harder for me...