Jun 112020

Seventeen gardens were surveyed for our 4G Birdwatch. Thanks to those of you that sent in your lists. I hope that you enjoyed taking part. 42 species of bird were recorded and I have separated these into two lists – one of  “typical” garden birds and the other of “flyovers or unusual visitors”.

First the garden birds. A list of 16 species ranked by the number of gardens they were reported  from.

Species Rank
Blackbird 1
Magpie 1
Woodpigeon 1
Blue Tit 4
Robin 4
House Sparrow 6
Collared Dove 7
Goldfinch 8
Great Tit 8
Starling 8
Carrion Crow 11
Dunnock 11
Chaffinch 13
Wren 14
Great Spotted Woodpecker 14
Greenfinch 16

The list contains 2 species that are red listed as birds of conservation concern, Can you guess which species? You may be surprised to learn that they are house sparrow and starling. Both were reported in good numbers and with fledglings and/or nests. Steve sent these pictures of a young birds in his garden. But nationally the numbers, compared to the recent past, are low. Last year I read “The House Sparrow” by JD Summers-Smith (1963). He writes about flocks of house sparrows numbering 2000 birds! Can you imagine that? Greenfinch features at the bottom and most of us are aware of its decline. The really surprising top bird was woodpigeon. Not just in our gardens but reported to be breeding in many – with young birds and nests. Our garden has two nests at the moment. The other bird that is definitely on the up is the goldfinch – 10 birds reported from one garden and several with nests or young visiting the feeders. But for me, there is one bird missing from the list above. The RSPB used to produce a paper guide to the garden birds that you were likely to see for their Big Garden Birdwatch. One species appeared year after year until 2005 – when it was removed from the list. Sally and I did see one on the 2005 Birdwatch day and we had to add it under “other”. Do you know what species I am writing about? The song thrush. They used to nest in our garden and it was brilliant to see a nest with young on Springwatch this evening (in Wales). I really miss not seeing song thrushes. The only report was from a woodland garden. Lucky Diana.

The second list, of “flyovers” and less regular birds seen, contains 25 species. These are shown in order of the number of sightings but without ranking.

Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
Feral Pigeon
Med. Gull
Ring-necked Parakeet
Green Woodpecker
Pied Wagtail
Red Kite
Stock Dove
Grey heron
Long-tailed Tit
Song Thrush

This list is very much about the habitat around the garden and luck (such as Sue’s swallow). It also shows lots of change from the recent past. Just a few years ago there would have been absolutely no chance to watch red kite, buzzard, or mediterranean gull flying over the garden. The population of sparrowhawks has recovered from pesticide poisoning and now they are regular in bird rich gardens. And Ring-necked Parakeet?

Many of the people that sent in their bird lists also included “non-avian taxa”. A terrible phrase that I do sometimes use myself. All life forms other than birds. Is “ornithocentric” a word? I have just looked – I don’t think it is

Holly Blue butterfly was mentioned quite often. There should now be a period of a few weeks without seeing them. We will have to wait for the second brood to appear. Badgers, fox, and grey squirrel all got a mention. And lots of bees. Thanks to Steve for a wonderful series of photographs. I have only used two but some of the others can be seen on the website gallery.


 Posted by on 11 June 2020 at 10:10 pm

  2 Responses to “Gravesend Garden Birdwatch”

Comments (2)
  1. Thanks for compiling this Malcolm and Sally. Perhaps we could make it an annual event?


  2. Excellent work by you both and a really interesting read.

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