What did you see during RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch?

The RSPB are aware that there were some issues with their website during the bird watch weekend. If you haven’t submitted your sitings there’s still plenty of time to do so.

It would be good to hear in the comments if any additional birds were seen in OP.


Blue tit

In my hour I saw 2 collared doves, 2 great tits, 2 robins, 2 blue tits and a dunnock….the dunnocks are the little brown ones a lot of people think are sparrows.

Women’s Hour on Radio 4 today

Germaine Greer joins Jenni Murray for a special programme about women and the land…. Germaine talks about her experiences restoring an area of forest in Australia, then Jenni and Germaine are joined by expert Alys Fowler who discusses which native species to plant in UK gardens, whether they be big or small plots.


Take part in the bird feeding experiment featured on BBC Winterwatch


Go to the link above for the live link to email your results to. A good activity if it’s a wet weekend, and an opportunity to see the surprising bird diversity of OP. The recording sheet is also available via the link.




Hi, Thank you very much for taking part in this citizen-science experiment we appreciate you taking the time to help us with our research. The experiment should take less than 30 minutes per day for 3 days. Please note that the type of food you leave out depends on your surname – see below. All completed forms are to be emailed to: foraging-experiments@zoo.ox.ac.uk Thanks Damien Farine Background: Our previous research found that individual birds used a strategy where they collected information about the distribution of food resources in the morning. This also suggested that in the evening, a critical time of day to feed for avoiding overnight starvation, birds should return to the best resource they found that day. We are hoping to find out whether this is true by experimentally altering the quality of food at feeders in order to test whether birds avoid feeders in which they found poor food in the morning, and visit feeders where they found high quality food in the morning. Instructions: Day 1: Beginning between 3pm and 4pm, count the number of birds that land on your feeder(s) (by species if possible) for 3 minutes. Wait 7 minutes, repeat the count for another 3 minutes. Wait another 7 minutes, do a final 3 minute count. This will provide 3 counts. Each count should be the number of birds seen to land on the feeder having flown from vegetation (if by species, including unidentified species). After dark, remove all available food, and replace this with either apples or cheese. Surnames A-L will first provide apples, M-Z first provide cheese. Replenish food during the following day where possible. Day 2: Perform the same 3 minute counts of the number of birds landing on the food. After dark, remove the apples or cheese, and replace with the other food type (Surnames A-L will put out cheese, M-Z will put out apples). Day 3: Perform the same 3 minute counts of the number of birds landing on the food. After dark, you can replace your normal food.

Big Garden Birdwatch 25-26 January 2014

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is coming up on 25-26 January 2014

I took part last year. All it needs is for you to watch the birds in your garden or local green space for one hour during the Birdwatch weekend. See the link below to register and for more details. The RSPB have created apps to make counting birds (and any other animals you see) easy.


The Pond and Raised bed


The pond bought for me as a birthday present and made from reclaimed materials was installed about 8 months ago by Cambridge Wood Works http://www.cambridgewoodworks.org.uk/ It has been allowed to fill with rain water as tap water contains something called chloromine, it is used to disinfect water, and may well be toxic to amphibians. Now that there is a reasonable amount of water in it, friends have kindly installed oxygenating plants. I’ve put a frog ladder on the outside and need to install features so that if I am lucky enough to get amphibians, they’ll be able to get out of the water if they can’t use plants to do so. I’ve planted around the base of the pond in the hope that as the plants establish, the liner will become less visible. The raised bed has been stripped of plants for the winter, but I’m looking forward to planting it up again in the spring. It’s a good sense of achievement to be able to make a meal from ingredients I’ve grown organically.

From the Wildlife Trust – How to make a Mini Nature Reserve

Mini nature reservehttp://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/files/Mini%20nature%20reserve.pdf

Make a Mini Nature Reserve instructions – click on the link above. Something to do during the cold weather and a good activity for people who don’t have gardens, this can even be done on a windowsill.