Garden Birdwatch

From the 29th-31st January the RSPB will be holding its annual Big Garden Birdwatch, ones of the worlds largest bird surveys. To get involved all you need to do is pick one hour over the three days, could be day or night and count the birds you see visiting your garden/whatever you can see from your window (not counting birds in flight). Then to submit your results to rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.

The results collected from these surveys are really important, for the past 40 years that this survey has occurred, they have been able to note what birds are in decline or on the rise visiting our local patches, e.g the Song Thrush was noted to decline in visiting numbers by 76% from 1979 to 2019. It helps identify what birds need help and what birds are thriving.

As you may of guessed I will be taking part, there aren’t many days anyway where I am not looking out into the garden to see what birds are there. One of my biggest aims with the new garden was to encourage more birds/wildlife to visit.

So far it has been successful. Offering a variety of bird food, from nuts, fat balls, fruit to seed has seen a flourish of new visitors to the garden.

A great activity I would recommend, something I have made very recently is my own bird feeder using pine cones. All you need is lard (do not use butter/margarine as this has a negative effect for the birds), bird seed mix, pine cones and twine. Letting the lard come up to room temperature mix in the seed and cover the pine cone (I would suggest tying the twine around the cone before doing this). Once covered, refrigerate the cones until the lard has hardened again. Now tie the feeder up somewhere in the garden and hopefully it should entice birds to visit.

If you are currently homeschooling this could be a great natural science activity, getting children involved in noticing the natural world and having fun getting messy mixing the seed with the lard (the best way is hand mixing!)

One of the newest visitors that I have managed to capture this week was the elusive Jay, for their size and their beautiful colouring they can be extremely difficult to spot. Only breaking cover to visit the ground feeder, they are very shy birds. I used my pop up hide to be able to get a snap of them, sat in the hide it took a while for them to get used to me being there and brave visiting, I could only just about see them as they hovered around the garden border in cover.

I was absolutely thrilled to see them into the garden and be able to document it with the picture. I really hope that they become regulars. Other newcomers have included a Greater spotted Woodpecker, Blackcaps, Green Finch, Chaffinch and Goldcrest. I have not been able to decent snaps of these but again I am hopeful they will return.

I have been trying to get out into the garden as much as I can, especially as this past week my mental health has been all over the place. I have mentioned on numerous posts how soothing being out in nature for me, its not a fix but it is a stop gap for my mind, to focus on something outwardly rather than being stuck within my own negative thoughts.

I have been trying to make a real effort in not being so self critical recently. To try and ignore the voice at the back of my head that tells me no-one likes me, I am not good enough and that I am doing everything wrong. This is easier said than done, I fail at it a lot but I am going to keep trying for my own sanity.

I hope that you are all managing to keep your spirits up or if not that you are able to recoop and talk it out. Until next time, take care.

2021

Since my last post: we have entered a new year, commenced a new lockdown and have been given hope in the form of a new vaccine.

Firstly, I would like to begin by wishing you all a very happy new year, I really hope the festive season has been kind to you all and the new year has started well despite the new measures that have recently been put into place.

As if the festive season was not hectic enough, I added a house move to the mix. A lot of my mental health was tested with packing, unpacking and adjusting to the change.

One of the huge positives from the move is the new garden, which houses an abundance of nature that is well established, I have been reading on ways to potentially attracting more too. A goal for the year. I look forward to seeing if I manage this.

Nature has always been a great remedy for me, if I am feeling anxious, watching the birds at the feeder can be a great distraction. It may not take my worries away, but it allows me time to settle my thoughts, calm and focus.

So in-between of unpacking and settling in, I have been out in all weathers to sit in garden with the camera.

Even out in snow! Which was a very welcome surprise, it generally misses the area where I live, usually favoring higher regions. I find snow so enchanting, I just adore it, almost as much as my pooch. Its the first time Lance has encountered snow and he absolutely loved it, bounding around like a puppy, it was a struggle getting him back into the house.

Bird watching has been a big focus while out with the camera, top of my wishlist for the future is a pop up hide, there have been Jays who I have seen visit, who I am desperate to capture but are too shy to enter the garden with me in view.

A completely new sighting for me which I did manage to get a quick snap of, who is also the UKs smallest bird (alongside the Firecrest) is a Goldcrest. This bird is perpetually in motion, a blur of movement between branches, I was surprised to get any shot that was in focus. I am very excited to say that I have noticed it in the garden a few times, I am hopeful that this will remain the case for the coming months.

Macro was my savior during the original lockdown, unfortunately it will take a back seat due to the colder months. Although I did manage to get a snowflake shot, which is just as difficult as shooting a jumping spider! Bird, wildlife and nature will be my aim to shoot this time around.

How is everyone feeling about the new lockdown?

I have to say personally I am relieved. With the numbers of positive tests and hospital admittance’s on the rise, it makes sense for there to be more restrictions on daily life for the present moment.

There is hope in the form of a vaccine, which over the coming months with be administered to the most vulnerable in society. These times are hopefully temporary. A necessity to overcome these surreal times.

I know the thought of another lockdown can be scary, I can only hope that with the restrictions in place and the jab being rolled out we are on the final, hardest stretch before we can return to a type of normality.

If you do find yourself struggling with your mental health, I can only implore you to reach out, to family, friends, charities. We need to support each other more than ever.

I shall leave you with the shots I took throughout December. As you can see, Robins are a prominent feature. These feisty little birds have been a regular to the garden and have been serenading me since I moved in (nothing to do with defining territories, or attracting a mate).

I wish you all the best, until next time, take care.