Friday, 23 January 2009

Birder's Bonus 36

It's that week when the RSPB encourages the masses (as they have done for the last 30 years) to undertake a garden bird survey by watching out for our feathered brethren on their home bird tables and feeders ($ja=kw:garden+bird+surveycgn:Big+Garden+Bird+Watchcgid:355558193tsid:2934cn:Birdcid:13504373lid:4319936617mt:Broadnw:searchcrid:2860980083). The charity offers lots of identification help (including supplements in Sunday newspapers) in the 'Big Garden Birdwatch' and the data does give a reasonable snapshot of the bird species that are around in UK gardens at the most trying time of the year (increasing the chances of amateur recorders seeing reasonable numbers of flying snackers). The event, of course, has a number of minor flaws (quite apart from the possibility of misidentification and the same bird being recorded by neighbours). It will not pick up species that migrate into the country at other times. It also largely attracts bold birds that feed on seeds, nuts, bread and fat balls (if all are available). Other species (unless they are flying in to feed on the smaller birds) are much less likely to be recorded. Having said all that, the data is for free and the event is an excellent publicity event for the organisation. In my garden on Sunday 25th January 2009, several (more than 6) Starlings, 3 Blackbirds, 3 Long-tailed tits, 2 Magpies and single European robin, Blue tit, Great tit, Song thrush and Chaffinch were seen (quite a normal collection?).
It is interesting (also in a bird direction) to note that school children in a Gateshead school are apparently being enthused by pigeon breeding and keeping ( Birds seem to be a good focus for educational activities.

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