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...the website for the village of Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire
Nature Notes - Birds
The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch happened on 30th-31st January and we asked for the results people in Bugbrooke collected to see what the local situation was. People watched for 1 hour and counted how many birds of one species were seen together at one time. We received 18 sets of results and this is a summary of what was seen. There were 31 species seen. To find out more about a bird click on its name.
* The Song Thrush, the House Sparrow, the Tree Sparrow and Starling are all categorised by the RSPB as being red status meaning that they are severely under threat for a variety of reasons. *The Mistle Thrush, the Dunnock, the Bullfinch, the Grey Wagtail and the Black-headed Gull are designated amber status which indicates decline but recovering. All other species seen in Bugbrooke are green status which shows that they are regarded as secure. For more information about the RSPB reasons for giving these designations click here.
Thank you to everyone who took part and those who encouraged others to do so, and to Allen at Petstop who helped by distributing tally forms. I would have been pleased with 10 sets of results but received 18, and it is clear that birdlife in Bugbrooke is diverse and healthy. People who used the form from Petstop were asked to list birds that they often see but did not during the hour they watched, and counting all of them there were 40 species. Of the species actually seen there were 31. Every garden had Blackbirds and most had Blue Tits and Robins.
Amongst the more unusual species were Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Bullfinch and Goldcrest. Grey Wagtails (not to be confused with the commoner black, grey and white Pied Wagtail) were seen in three gardens. Some are winter migrants from Europe but many are residential, breeding close to fast-flowing water where insects are abundant. It seems a shame that such a colourful bird with its bright yellow and grey plumage should be called a Grey Wagtail, but it distinguishes it from the Yellow Wagtail which is a summer visitor and may be seen locally.
Most gardens had a few House Sparrows but some had too many to count, so that they were by far the most numerous species overall. The numbers vary locally, so that for example large numbers of Greenfinch and House Sparrow were recorded in one place whereas only 100 yards away there were very few. It seems that small birds have a small range and keep to where they know they will find food so to avoid using energy looking elsewhere. It underlines the need to be reliable about restocking feeders when the winter nights are long and a quick feed is essential to restore the body weight lost overnight. Also, if you want to attract birds to your garden, you need to establish your garden as a feeding station early in the season so that they know about it when times get tough.
Birds seen: Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Dunnock, Starling, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Wren, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Magpie, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Black headed Gull, Moorhen, Pheasant
Birds seen recently but not during the birdwatch: Green Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Redwing and Fieldfare.
If you would like to attract wild birds to your garden, you have to give them what they need- food water and shelter. Peanuts are good to attract greenfinches, blue and great tits, great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, house sparrows and starlings. Use a mesh seed-holder rather than one where they can take a whole nut at once, or you could be refilling it every day. Sunflower seeds are even more popular and also attract coal tits. These are too small to go in a mesh holder and they do disappear quickly. Fat balls are attractive to long tailed tits, who come in groups of five or six. Jackdaws like them too, as do squirrels. They do not play fair though, as I saw a squirrel in a hedge eating the fat through the plastic mesh surrounded by lots of empty mesh bags! Goldfinches are abundant locally and nyjer seeds are their favourite. Ground feeding birds, such as robins, blackbirds, thrushes, dunnocks and chaffinches, tidy up beneath the feeders. Make sure there is water available and everyone will be happy. However, sparrow hawks are hungry too, so make it difficult for them by putting the feeders close to cover. Small birds are sometimes taken, but most get away.
Put up nest boxes now out of reach of predators and shaded during the hottest part of the summer day. It gives birds time to check them out, and in a hard winter are shelter for wrens and tits where they huddle together to keep warm during the night.
An interest in birds is one that can be enjoyed from your home whatever the weather, so here are some ideas for Christmas presents. A starter pack of nuts, seeds and holders; a bird identification book; nest box; membership of a wildlife group such as RSPB or the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northants Wildlife Trust; bird table; bird bath and at the top end of the market, binoculars.