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Blue Monday: Big Garden Birdwatch

Blue Tit

Blue Monday: Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a citizen science project that has been running for almost fourty years and helps provide a “snapshot” of bird numbers across the UK. The data collected helps inform the RSPB of any problems in bird numbers. Steps can then be taken to identify the reasons for these problems and find resolutions. The data collected over the years can also provide us with some great success stories. Since the start of Birdwatch, blue tit numbers have actually increased by twenty percent!

On Saturday morning I joined a group of wildlife enthusiasts at RHS Wisley Gardens for a tour of the grounds, identifying different bird species, led by experts from the North West Surrey branch of the RSPB. The highlight of the morning for me was a flock of siskin found near the bottom of  Battleston Hill. They were very silhouetted againgst the morning skies but I finally managed to get a shot of one to show you the wonderful yellow colourings. We estimated there were around fourty birds in the flock.

Siskin

Siskin

On our way up to the orchards we saw a mistle thrush in the oaks. I shall be looking out for it in the area as I couldn’t get a close enough view for a photograph. The flocks of fieldfare and redwing were also keeping their distance from us in the orchards but we witnessed them swooping and diving to outwit the local buzzard. Quite a sight! There are more flocks of redwing feeding on the lawn areas at Seven Acres and around the lakes. Recent rainfall has turned the ground marsh-like, bringing up plenty of insects and worms for these hungry winter visitors. Among the flocks are other thrush, robins and blackbirds all taking advantage of this feast. I was delighted to see the Egyptian Geese have returned to the lake again! Hopefully they will have their goslings at Wisley again this year.

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese

We finished our birdwatch at the birdhide situated at the far end of the Pinetum, on the banks of the Wey. With so many of us in the group it was hard for me to get many photographs but we were all delighted to see the nuthatch, chaffinches, robins, parakeets, ducks, moorhens and very healthy numbers of tits. There were great, blue and coal tits all visiting the feeders and flitting around in the trees and scrub. I’m putting one of my shots of a blue tit, with absolutely wonderful colouring, into this week’s Fotospeed challenge. A perfect example of a citizen science success story!

Many thanks to Amy from RHS Wisley for organising the workshops and educational events at the gardens, and to NW Surrey RSPB for leading the event and providing some great information and close-up views with their spotting scopes.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

Goldcrest hovering in flight while feeding

Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful

I think one of the most graceful sights in all of nature is a bird in flight! From the smallest; our little goldcrest, who flits about so quickly among the trees and shrubs it’s hard to keep track of them, to one of our largest; the grey heron, with a giant wingspan that allows them to soar for miles traveling between bodies of water. I can never tire of watching birds in the wild! This weekend I will be doing my bit to help the RSPB collect data that is so important in conservation work, The Big Garden Birdwatch. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing this weekend, perhaps you can find just ten minutes to stop and watch the birds too!

Graceful Goldrest

Graceful Grey Heron

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition – A Strange Combination

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition - A Strange Combination

Weekly Photo Challenge: Juxtaposition

I got this robin free with a cappuccino at RHS Wisley Gardens last year!

This weekend is the annual RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I’ll be at Wisley with Simon, my friend Nikki and her children, so after we’ve delighted in the butterflies we’ll be having a few cuppa’s and counting the birds 🙂

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Round Robin

Round Robin

There’s something very heart-warming about going out to feed the birds in the winter 🙂 As well as keeping our own garden birds fed and watered Simon and I popped down to Wisley on the way do our shopping so I could feed and photograph the robins who have their territory by the main entrance.

This wonderful little character was perched in one of the bushes watching me intently as I piled meal worm and other grains on a few tables where the snow had cleared.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a robin quite this puffed up before which gives you an idea of how chilly it is out there at the moment.

Is everyone ready for The Big Garden Birdwatch for the RSPB next weekend? You can register here http://tiny.cc/etb4qw

Photo links to my Facebook page 🙂