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RSPB Big Garden Bird watch, it’s amazing how quickly the year goes by.

We chose to do our watch on the Saturday this year and it’s been a beautiful crisp cold day. Most of the expected birds turned up for their daily feed, you can see our results further down this post.

_MG_4954-29Jan2011 A Nuthatch enjoys a black sunflower seed.

But first I’d like to recount some behaviour of the Pecker variety. To be more precise the Greater Spotted Woodpecker. As those of you who follow my posts will know, we have good numbers of these woodpeckers on the farm and some visit the feeders year round. Currently we have 2 males and 1 female who are regular feeder visitors. Peanuts & Fat balls are their usual preference but one male has developed a liking for sunflower seeds. He is however, very particular about his preparation and eating ritual. Once he is confident that the area is safe, he collects several sunflower seeds from the feeder. Next he flies across to an old post that has a small hole in it. He places the seeds in the hole and bashes them with his beak. This appears to not only remove the hard shell but also pounds the kernel in to fine chips & coarse flour that he then heartily enjoys. This process he then repeats, until disturbed or satisfied. I’ve posted a 2 minute video of this to my YouTube channel, which you can watch at the end of this post.

Now back to the BGBW. As promised our results are in the table below, guarded by Mrs Woodpecker:







Blue Tit


Great Tit


House Sparrow






Coal Tit






Song Thrush










GS Woodpecker


Carrion Crow




Tawny Owl


Summary: 18 species 134 individuals

I’m pleased that some of the Bramblings showed up this year. They have been absent or few in numbers for a several winters but this winter has seen a good number on the farm. They have such fabulous plumage too.

_MG_4956-29Jan2011 A Brambling perches on a hedgerow twig.

As you can read above, Chaffinches are in great abundance and each morning the farmyard is alive with the hubbub of gossip between their various families in the surrounding hedgerows. Despite the fact that they seem to find plenty of food around the stables & barns, they are still very prominent at the feeders each day.

_MG_4965-29Jan2011 A Chaffinch in the winter sun.

I think the only regular visitors that didn’t turn up for today’s count, were the Siskins. But then they seem to have been staying up in the forestry during cold spells, only coming down to the feeders when it’s damp & milder; so perhaps their no show was to be expected.

Ah, time to do the evening rounds now. I hope your BGBW was successful and if you haven’t done it yet, good luck for tomorrow.

Here’s the Woody video I mentioned:

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Big Garden Bird Watch 2010

Last weekend was the 2010 instalment of the RSPB’s “Big Garden Bird Watch”. The whole family took part on a day that was beautiful for the event, we were joined by a Robin who seemed to enjoy bird watching himself.

Bird Watching

Chilly with a layer of snow on the ground there were sunny spells with occasional snow showers. I installed myself in the orchard hide for a few hours on both Saturday and Sunday. We took our count for the hour from midday on Saturday, which turned out to be a slightly slim period with no Siskin, Jay or Goldfinch turning up. The Siskins did arrive on Sunday, as did the Jay.

Siskin Arrival

So who else was about? Well an abundance of Chaffinches as ever, 29 or more on Sunday morning; along with a solitary Greenfinch. Four species of Tits: Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh.

Fatball Surprise

Song Thrush and Blackbird were represented too:

Snow Table

Various Great Spotted Woodpeckers visited, as did a few Nuthatches. In total we saw 13 species for our 1 hour count and a few  more over the whole weekend. Then of course there’s those on the rest of the farm that we can’t count because they didn’t land in the garden, like Crows & Buzzards.

The food that we had put out was just the normal fair that we offer:

  • Black Sunflower
  • Mixed Seed
  • Grains
  • Niger Seed
  • Fat balls
  • Peanuts
  • Sultanas

We were out of meal worms so I’m afraid a few may have missed their favourite. This little Coal Tit seemed very happy to tackle the Sunflower seed:


Well that was it, a fun BGBW and looking forward to next year.

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Jay – Garrulus glandarius

The Eurasian Jay is a colourful member of the crow family and is resident across most of Europe. Jays breed in various types of woodland but prefer oak, for its abundance of acorns.

We are lucky enough to have a reasonable number of these rather shy birds, breeding locally. This year they have taken to visiting our bird feeding station. The other day I set up a remote camera to record the goings on; below is a sequence of 2 visits & flights away, just click the play button to view the sequence.

Jays really are very cautious birds but its well worth trying to get them calm to your presence, their plumage is truly stunning. You’ll certainly hear that they’re about, with the loud grating alarm calls that they make!