Wednesday, 29 January 2014

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch at St Ives, Bingley - Sunday 26th January 2014

Thank you to all who attended the Airedale Otters Big Garden Birdwatch event at St Ives on Sunday 26th January. This is a really important survey, which helps the RSPB understand how well the birds are doing and gives us a ‘snapshot’ of bird numbers across the UK. The weather was extremely wet, but those who braved the rain were rewarded with some great birds, excellent views of Grey Squirrels, and hot chocolate and hot Ribena and biscuits!

The rain was at its heaviest as we arrived, but eased off during the hour of the survey. The Otters leaders had been out on the Saturday and earlier on Sunday morning, putting out lots of tempting treats in the feeders and on the ground for the birds. The birds could choose from peanuts, a variety of seeds, apples, and fat balls.

Armed with notebooks, pencils, bird identification books and binoculars, we recorded 15 different species, one more than last year.

Blackbirds were the first to take advantage of all the food on offer, mostly feeding on seeds on the ground. We saw six in total – including males and females and all the Otters should now be able to explain the difference!

We saw four different members of the crow family. A large black Carrion Crow was high in the tree to the right of the hide, and we noticed a Jackdaw flying in by first hearing it's call: "Jack! Jack!". A black and white Magpie flew around the feeding area, often landing on the fence. We spotted a large bird with a large white rump (the area between the tail and back on a bird) flying through the trees at the back of the feeding station. It was a Jay, the most colourful member of the crow family in the UK.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was moving around around high in the trees to the left of the hide - a common bird in these woods, but always a joy to see. We could also hear the high-pitched call of a Treecreeper nearby, but unlike last year we couldn't locate it.

We saw four species of tit, one more than last year  – the black, white and pink Long-tailed Tit with its distinctive call and tail; the small greyish Coal Tit, recognisable by the way it flits in, snatches a seed and flies out again; the larger Great Tit, with its distinctive glossy black head; and the familiar Blue Tit with its colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green.

But it was the Grey Squirrels who put on the best show. There was at least one feeding always close to the front of the hide, and at one point we had four feeding on the ground and bird tables.

Grey Squirrel, St Ives, Bingley - Sunday 26th January

Other visitors to the hide area that morning were Robins, Dunnocks, Collared Dove, and Woodpigeon. The full list of birds recorded by the Airedale Otters is below - click on a link to learn more about the bird:
All in all, a good day’s work for a cold January day, so well done Otters! The RSPB will publish the Big Garden Birdwatch results later in the year.  

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