RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Sunday was our day of choice to take part in the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, and it also represented the first time that we have done so in the new house. This annual voluntary survey of the state of our garden birds continues to go from strength to strength and is a great excuse to watch the goings on in your own garden. I'm always worried that we will chose an hour when the garden is completely deserted but thankfully this year we hit the nail on the head, probably helped along by the freezing conditions driving birds to the feeders.
We watched from 12:30 to 13:30 and for the whole hour the garden was packed with most of our regular species as well as a couple of unusual extras. The previous weekend we had added a Niger seed feeder to our arsenal in the hope of attracting some Goldfinches which seemed to do the trick with a single bird turning up ten minutes from calling time. In all we recorded 17 species which I am very happy about, although we were missing Collared Dove and Bullfinch, both of which turned up an hour after we had finished of course. For me though the highlight was seeing behaviour in the garden that I have not witnessed before. For instance I now know that the Starlings are absolutely brilliant at hanging off our seed feeders, but for some reason the Chaffinches are less so. Talking of Chaffinches we had a female that appeared to be suffering from a parasitic infection known as bumble foot, and one that was lacking a leg completely. This is a condition that finches are particularly susceptible to but both of our birds seemed to be feeding and moving around perfectly well. Another interesting behaviour was the way in which both the Wren and House Sparrows are going under the metal sheeting that makes up my garage to look for insects. At one point we thought the Wren had actually made it all the way inside only for it to appear out of another location. It's all fine with me as it keeps the spiderwebs down on my mountain bike! Spring may also be in the air as we had pairs of Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock and Greenfinch present.
The final counts from our survey were as follows:
Blue Tit (5)
House Sparrow (7)
Great Tit (2)
Coal Tit (2)
Song Thrush (1)
Carrion Crow (1)
I popped into Sandy Water Park near Llanelli at the end of the day to look for the Bittern that we saw there late last year. I had no luck on that score but the Water Rail was still feeding in the ditch at the far end and had been joined by one male and two female Teal. I think that's probably the smallest area of water I have ever seen Teal in but I suppose needs must when open water is at a premium. There were good numbers of other waterfowl present including two Shoveller and numerous Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Pochard. Some of the Gadwall have now become so tame that they are feeding amongst the Mallards on bread thrown in by visitors. Two Little Grebe were feeding near the Sandpiper pub.