Bird Watching Afternoon.

We do enjoy the RSPB Big Garden Bird watch. It can be quite an event in our house and this weekend it was no different. I had chief bird watcher in charge of the proceedings. My dad was also in charge of the pencil and check list… V.I.B.W. (Very Important Bird Watcher)

Things started slow, it was a milder afternoon than we had had in the past few days. There was still snow but the thaw was well under way. The feeders were filled to the brim of all manner of tasty treats to tempt our feathered friends.

“Dad! Two blackbirds… over there by the fence!!”

My enthusiasm was a little too much but my dad seemed to like it.

“ Yes, yes, I have got them down now… just two? Is that not a third one there?”

He points in a very general direction.

“No dad, that is the back of the other one behind the trunk.”

They left as quickly as they arrived, the noise could almost have been deafening if it wasn’t for good double glazing.

“The Sparrow hawk is coming.” Dad remained deadpan as he made the announcement.

“How do you know?”

He stayed straight-faced.

“The Blackbird told me…”

I nod… and quickly open up a new tab on the laptop and Google ‘Straight Jackets’.

I had barely got the S-T in and swooping down from above and landing squarely on the largest branch of the apple tree was the Sparrow Hawk! He searched the area with greedy-eyes and then flew back to the other tree on the other side of the garden. Settling, he continued his visual search and he must have seen something moving on the large tree over the fence and he was up and away so quickly. He glided straight over the fence of our garden and slap-bang into the net of the neighbours’ trampoline. I knew that thing had to have a good use as it never has any children on it! With not an ounce of dignity left he flapped a few times then he took his embarrassed self away from the tree and off into the distance he fled!

I turn to my dad seated next to me with a very smug look on his face.

The garden fell silent for the next few minutes as is usual after a sparrow hawk visit.

The brave arrived shortly after the hawk had left. Safety in numbers!

“5.. Tracey, 5 long tail tits.. 7! 7! There are two on that feeder…10! Count them Tracey!”

I concur! There was indeed ten Long tail Tits, as they took to each feeder, flitting from one to the next like busy little mice-birds..

The feathered flood gates then opened. It was a wonderful sight! A robin, little and fat and very proudly sticking out his red-breast was fluttering upwards in a very undignified manner as he tried to feed from the fatty cake in the square cages. Usually feeding from the ground, this was a strange thing to see. As he dangled and fluttered the tits came in, Coal tits – 2, Great tits, 2…3, Blue tit, 1… and so the count went on. The blackbirds, already counted arrived, the second Robin arrived and was very quickly seen-off just as we checked another ‘I’ on the checklist. As quickly as they arrived they left and the garden fell silent.

“Rabbit!” dad has his wiggly finger out again aiming it to the bottom of the garden.

“It’s a bird watch Dad.” Seems I should point it out.

“I wonder were the squirrels are today?” He seemed undeterred by my mention of the animals not being allowed.

As we sipped on our hot coffee and chatted dad spotted the newest visitors. I was not so sure about the ‘Safety in numbers’ statement for these chaps but one after the other the Wood pigeons arrived. We live opposite a very large farmer’s field so we are used to the arrival of these guys in large numbers. Very early on a morning is the best time to catch them all. I have had up to thirty in at one time. (Approximately!) This time was a rather lesser number of 8. Impressive for our list though. Dad marked them all on the list and as he added the last strike for 8, number 9,10 and 11 settled at the lower part of the garden.

Other birds arrived and departed over the hour, we made sure we didn’t do any false accounting and we had an impressive list by 3pm.

The only notable no-show was the Woodpecker. We had visits from the Jays, two of them. The mystery bird we had two of we think they were young male blackbirds… I wanted them to be Field Fare but I think that would be false accounting.

All in all it was a very enjoyable hour spent appreciating and getting swept up in the excitement of the Big Garden Bird Watch.

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Popso
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 16:02:48

    After 60 minutes we had… 1 x Wood Pigeon and 2 x Blue Tits.
    Nothing as spectacular as a Sparrow hawk !!!


    • daffy
      Jan 28, 2013 @ 18:47:07

      Popso, we have had some dismal shows believe me. You have to tell them how it is and somedays the birds just don’t show. Unfortunately for me, although amazing to see, the Sparrow Hawk can often be my ‘spoke in the works’ :)


  2. Doris
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 16:41:44

    Thanks for such an enjoyable read! Congratulations on all the sightings!


    • daffy
      Jan 28, 2013 @ 18:47:56

      Thank you Doris, for the kind comment and for reading. I wish I had your talent so I could have the photographs to go wth the word. xx


  3. Jenny
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 17:36:23

    I used to do that here but we had so many and so varied birds that the powers that be in the Bird Watch didn’t believe me. They hinted I didn’t know one bird from another when in fact, I spent a lot of time studying them all. I don’t do it any more.


    • daffy
      Jan 28, 2013 @ 18:49:52

      Jenny I did write the number 50 in the bluetits by accident… it came up as a high score and I realised my error. Dad said I was trying to fiddle! :) I know for a fact you have amazing birds where you are, I have seen some of your photographs. To be honest, realising where you live and your surroundings I wouldn’t be surprised by anything you saw.


  4. Flighty
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 19:04:13

    This post conjures up such a vivid picture of dad and you doing the Bird Watch. In your case I think that it should have been called Wildlife Watch.
    I see that you saw lots of interest, including the lovely long-tailed tits and jays. xx


  5. daffy
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 19:59:23

    Such fun Flighty. My dad really loves it. I would have liked to have seen a nuthatch, a siskin and the goldinch but some have flown to warmer climates and some, like the woodpecker, were just being shy. The wood pigeons were really great. I know they are common but when they come in numbers just to ‘hang out’ its rather nice. :) xxx


  6. Glo
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 20:24:03

    Hi Daffy ~ I am so pleased to have read through your recent posts and to know all is well with you and yours! What a menagerie you have lodging with you, other than your children and husband, I mean! Lots of snow still around as well. Much more than we’ve had here this winter, for sure. I enjoyed reading the conversation between you and your dad as you watched and counted the birds. Well done! Hi to Scruffy :)


  7. daffy
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 06:05:11

    Hello Glo. thanks so much for calling by and saying hi. Its been a very snowy two week period, especially here in the North. We have rains and winds now. ;) Extreme weather indeed! Family are well. I wish I could stop them growing up now… haha Andrea is 17 and Allen is 22. I can’t believe that my children are THAT old! Dad and Scruffy are both well. Hope to ‘see’ around alot more as I try and keep up with the bloggin world.. once again. xx


  8. AC
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 11:23:19

    Your Netflix is probably very different that our Netflix. We sometimes catch old serials on tv here and there. We caught an old Waking the Dead the other night and managed to record an Inspector Bank, whom I had never seen before but have read.


  9. daffy
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 13:15:44

    Yeah maybe AC. If I do find anything watch-worthy I can let you know and you can maybe search it out. :) Nice to see you. :)


  10. mylatinnotebook
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 16:14:01

    We have a real variety coming through every day, but this is the first year we have done the Garden watch. A little put off by it now after reading one of your commenter’s saying that the RSPB was skeptical ….

    Great post!


  11. daffy
    Jan 30, 2013 @ 16:19:54

    Hello mylatinnotebook and thanks so much for stopping by. Don’t be put off. THe RSPB use all of the information we provide during the garden bird watch. Jenny made a comment with reference to a similar thing that they do in Canada. Its not the RSPB in th UK. :)


  12. thedailydish
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 01:46:27

    Sounds like a lovely hour spent, Daff! Feel free to add in our 5 regular turkey men, family of 3 crows, and of course the ever-eager super sized red tail hawk who remains perched above our henhouse! ;)



    • daffy
      Feb 01, 2013 @ 08:50:59

      Wooooah! A red tail hawk! How impressive… not sure if they would believe that of a little garden in the North East of England….but I may try it! :) Only five turkey Dishy? You had loads… are you sure you went vegetarian/vegan ;)


  13. nikkipolani
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 05:37:03

    You and your dad always make me laugh! Sounds like you had an enjoyable hour seeing all you could see.


  14. daffy
    Feb 01, 2013 @ 08:52:09

    Nikki we can be a bit of a comedy duo! My aunt says we bicker like an old married couple…. ;) My mam would be proud that I have carried on the tradition so well!


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