Dear Readers, I was scanning the garden yesterday when I noticed a blur of movement down by the pond. Out came the binoculars! And after a few anxious minutes, I was able to focus on a quintessential ‘little brown job’ – definitely a warbler of some kind, and my money is on a chiffchaff, though it didn’t call so I wasn’t able to identify it for sure. The bird didn’t stick around for long enough to get a photo either, so here is a much better photo from someone else.
However, this got me thinking about the birds that have been seen in my garden, and I thought I’d knock up a quick list. I’d be fascinated to know how this list is different from those of you in other parts of the country, and also in other places in the world – I know that Anne from SomethingOverTea lives in South Africa and has a garden list about four times as long as mine, which just illustrates how birds definitely prefer warmer climes with lots of insect food. But how does it compare with a list from Switzerland, for example? Anyhow, here are all the birds that have been seen in the garden since I moved here in 2010 (I’m not including those that have flown over, so no cormorants or swallows or black-backed gulls).
- Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
- Sparrowhawk (Accipter nisus)
- Rock dove/Feral pigeon (Columba livia)
- Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
- Collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
- Ring-necked parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
- Great-spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
- Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
- Magpie (Pica pica)
- Carrion crow (Corvus corone)
- Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
- Blackbird (Turdus merula)
- Song thrush (Turdus philmelos)
- Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
- Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
- Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
- Great tit (Parus major)
- Blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
- Coal tit (Periparus ater)
- Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
- Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
- Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
- Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
- Common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
- Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
- Pied wagtail (Motacilla alba)
- Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
- House sparrow (Passer domesticus)
- Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
- Common redpoll (Carduelis flammea)
- Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
- Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
- Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
- Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
So, a few things strike me about this list.
- If I hadn’t had the pond, I wouldn’t have been visited by the heron (or the grey wagtail), and lots of other birds stop by to drink too – the ‘chiffchaff’ yesterday was chiefly interested in the water.
- Many of the birds only visit in very bad weather – that would cover the fieldfare (who was grounded during a snowstorm), the siskins (who only come when it’s actually snowing) and the redpolls.
- Many of the birds pop over from nearby Coldfall Wood (the song thrush and the great-spotted woodpecker for sure)
- I have more of the warbler-type birds since my vines and hedges have grown a bit thicker – the blackcap spent most of her time in the tangle of bittersweet this year.
However, there are also some notable omissions.
- Although the waxwings often visit the street trees locally, they never come to see me in the garden – I guess there just isn’t the necessary concentration of berries. The rowan and the whitebeam are having a great year though, so let’s see what happens this winter.
- I always hope to see a brambling on its way through, or a bullfinch, but so far neither has stopped by (at least when I’ve been watching). If you see them in your garden, what’s your secret?
- Some of the birds that I see regularly in Coldfall Wood (stock doves, treecreepers, nuthatches) never come to see me – I imagine they’re quite happy where they are.
- I have a lot of predators for such a small patch – not just the occasional sparrowhawk taking out a collared dove, but magpies and jays and, of course, lots of cats. The cover for the birds can also provide cover for a marauding cat. I’ve learned to listen for the alarm calls, and will go outside and shoo off any felines that I think are rather too interested in what’s going on, but of course I can’t be there all the time. There were lots of babies last year (blue tits, blackbirds, robins, wrens) but it would be fascinating to know how many of them actually survive to adulthood. This year I have been ‘adopted’ by a pair of magpies, and the rest of the bird community are very unimpressed.
So, over to you, readers. What do you get in your garden? What would you love to see? What have you done that has made your garden more friendly for birds? Let’s share our experiences. The birds need all the help they can get.