There is still time this weekend to take part in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch – a fabulous (and fun) scheme which contributes greatly to the knowledge surrounding our garden birds. Highlighting current trends, increases, decreases and eruptions in avian populations through the power of citizen science. To take part, you only need a garden or, for those of you like me lacking in this regard, a local greenspace.
For my BBGW efforts this year I focused on two urban parks in Newcastle, dedicating an hour of my time to each over the course of this morning. The first, Iris Brickfield Park, is more or less your typical urban greenspace, boasting little more than an extensive field, a small pond and a series of scrubby areas. Surrounded entirely by housing, the results of the survey here (shown below) were more or less typical for this type of setting.
As you can see, seven of the species seen here also featured in the national top ten from 2017. Albeit in a somewhat different order. For example, my most numerous species, the Goldfinch, features at number one here compared to number six nationally; while House Sparrow takes the number six spot compared to number one nationally. It is little wonder Goldfinch snatched the top spot – they have, after all, increased substantially over recent years – though it was still heartening to record at least some Starlings and House Sparrows. Here Coal tit just edged out the remaining two species seen on my visit – Feral Pigeon and Great Tit – to secure its place in the top ten.
My second site was – Heaton Park – was a much more appealing prospect for a bird survey; boasting no end of mature trees, dense cover and even a small stream on its peripheries. The diversity of the habitat hearing resulting in the surprise addition of Kingfisher to this mornings list (my first in the city) and two Moorhens. Still, if you look at the results below, they remain somewhat true to the national trends…
Here, Goldfinch again snatched the top spot – owing to the charm of fifteen birds putting in an appearance towards the end of my watch – and Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Blackbird and Carrion Crow featured prominently, once again. At number four on my list, Blue Tit matches its position in the national rankings from last year.
Today’s results are more or less what I expected from this years BGBW (minus the Kingfisher), though there were a few notable omissions. Bullfinch, usually abundant here, were completing absent, as were Greenfinch – little wonder given the state of the wider population. Similarly, not one Collared Dove, Chaffinch or Song Thrush was seen during the course of the morning; although this was offset somewhat by the appearance of Long-tailed Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
This may not be interesting to you guys at home, but to me, it’s positively riveting.