Some of you will know that Sally and I put all of our bird sightings on to the BTO BirdTrack website. This is a really excellent system that allows our data to be used to monitor bird populations, to map bird distributions and direct conservation needs. It also allows us to keep a record of what we see and it can be quite interesting to look back at “old” records. OK – which bird do you think that we have seen and recorded most frequently so far this year (in 90 days) ? Well it ought to be house sparrow – we keep a good eye on our garden and we see them every day. I put up 4 new very solid woodcrete sparrow nestboxes on our house wall at the end of last year. I am not a gifted DIYer and one of the boxes (or its front door) is a bit loose. Every morning when Mr and Mrs H. Sparrow pay a visit it rocks and bangs against our bedroom wall. I now know that sparrows visit their intended nest site every day because the banging on the wall wakes me up – yes, really! We should have recorded house sparrows every day and they should be top of our list but they come in at only 38 records.
We see a lot of robins. The robins in our garden are fairly tame but the KWT Sevenoaks Wildfowl reserve has the friendliest robins around. The one at the picnic benches is the best but there are several others that come looking for food.
We found another tame robin at Stodmarsh as it fed on some biscuit crumbs. But no – robins only came in second at 41 records.
Although red kites are only rarely seen in Kent we have many records for this year. The map of our records is fascinating and it tell us something fundamental about distribution maps. This year we have made two train journeys to Oxford and Birmingham. As the train speeds along we count all of the red kites that we see and log their location using a GPS unit that we happen to have with us. Well why not? I can recommend the tip just north of Didcot. The map clearly shows the two train lines Paddington – Oxford and Marylebone – Birmingham as they cross the Chilterns. The re-introduction of the red kite has been a great conservation success for the RSPB and the Chilterns is still the stronghold for this species in England. But at “only” 31 records the red kite is well down our sightings list.
So which bird tops our 2013 list so far! Perhaps you knew what it would be all along – woodpigeon at 59 records.