I have received several reports about the Big Garden Birdwatch. Quite a few people saw wrens and a number also reported seeing song thrush. Interestingly some people, like me, said that this was the first song thrush sighting for a long while. Two days ago Sally and I walked down to the old orchard about 200m from our home and counted 14 song thrush in the field! It seems likely that in the last few days we have had an influx of birds from further north. Great spotted woodpecker and stock doves were recorded by some during their Birdwatch but perhaps the “best” was a report of a female blackcap. Thousands of blackcaps visit us each spring but these leave in the autumn. However a few do come to us each winter from Germany (and return in the spring). These blackcaps feed on berries and seem to prefer gardens – but the chances of seeing a winter blackcap in a one hour garden birdwatch must be very small. And it was the first time this birdwatcher had seen a blackcap!
Sally and I had a first for the garden on Wednesday – we occasionally see grey herons fly over the house but this one actually landed (for about 2 seconds – so no photographs!). We do have a pond but, sorry grey heron, no fish. The ditches on the marsh were probably frozen over – forcing the bird to search more widely for food.
Another newcomer to our garden this winter is the jay. Two birds are visiting most days and are now regularly feeding on peanuts. We also now have a grey squirrel! Perhaps you don’t think this is unusual. But this is only the third grey squirrel for our garden (in almost 40 years) and the first two only lasted about one week each. The latest one has been around for about 3 weeks now – eating the jay’s peanuts.
Thanks to Terry for the song thrush photograph and Sally for the video (note she is now trying to master Movie Maker).