Last year, I first recorded my garden birds for the RSPB Big Bird Count in January. In 2022, I repeated the exercise. I found I actually had more birds this year, but the distribution of species was quite different. I had more than 20 species visiting in an hour, but the RSPB only display the first ten on the chart.
The small birds are here in some number and I’m very pleased to see the siskins again, along with bullfinches, which are visiting daily. The dunnocks are showing off to the females. Long tailed tits are in and out before I can get them focussed and an elusive brambling and a wren appear briefly along with coal tits and blue tits. Great tits are rare but greenfinch quite numerous this year. With all the rain and wind, conditions have been poor, so I have far fewer photographs. These are some of the better ones from recent months.
Meet Humphrey and Friends
Meanwhile, the pheasants have moved in. The good thing is that they are keeping my weeds down. However, I anticipate that they will also start to devour seedling perennials once I start planting out in a few weeks time.
First, there was just one plump male pheasant of the regular variety, who lives for quite a bit of the day on my old picnic table near the feeders. I call him Humphrey. When it rains, Humphrey jumps down and takes shelter under the table…when the small birds come to feed, he positions himself under the feeders and can be seen jumping up to try to catch the discarded seeds that spill from the beaks of the little birds.
Lately, his friends have been arriving in some number…another male, three regular females, light brown in colour and there are also some mutant dark green males and some hybrids of mixed parentage.
The mutant females are a delicious dark chocolate brown colour with red-brown highlights, but they are very camera shy. There are up to eight pheasants at any time and they are getting quite brave when they see me. Instead of flying off, they now scurry into the undergrowth, only to re-appear when they think the coast is clear.
Pepper almost caught one today! As he flew off in panic, just in time, she ran to the top of a tree in pursuit. Silly cat!