2015/16 Garden Bird Survey underway

Birdwatch Ireland’s 2015/16 Garden Bird Survey is underway. I always look forward to it and there’s always something happening.

This is my week one count: Collarded Dove 2, Wren 1, Dunnock 1, Robin 1, Blackbird 2, Song Thrush 1, Blackcap 1, Goldcrest 1, Coal Tit 2, Blue Tit 4, Great Tit 2, Magpie 2, Starling 10, House Sparrow 30, Chaffinch 7, Greenfinch 5, Goldfinch 4, Bullfinch 2 & Redpoll 10 (abundance 88, species 19).

I won’t put my counts up every week but this is a fairly typical count and similar to last season’s first count. Numbers don’t tell the full story either; the 2 bullfinches were two beautiful males on some old raspberry canes and I only saw them once. At the same time a Song Thrush and Dunnock were just beneath them in the undergrowth and a Wren was flitting around – I tried to get them all in one shot but had to settle for the Song Thrush (from inside the house).


6 January 2016. A Sparrowhawk flew into the garden yesterday and landed in an apple tree. It cleared the garden of birds more effectively than any cat! This is only my 7th time to record one and it’s three years since I last saw one in the garden. I was in my conservatory but when I tried to sneak into the house for my camera it flew away. I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t observe it for longer while I had the chance. Here’s a link to a video I took (from inside the house) four years ago of one that did linger.

11 January 2016. Four Siskins on the peanut feeder today, the first of the winter.

29 January 2016. A beautiful Goldcrest appeared briefly in my berberis, the first since week one. Still haven’t seen a Long-tailed Tit this winter.

12 February 2016. Watching two nice female Bullfinches today. One of them was playing around with a dried leaf – I wonder if her nesting instincts are starting to kick in? I am amused these days watching the Blackbirds in my garden trying to sort out their pairing arrangements for the summer. Got a couple of nice shots of a Siskin and a Wren – the latter in particular has proved elusive to me over the years as it never stays still for more than a second.



Garden Bird Survey updated to 2014/15

I’ve carried out two more Garden Bird Surveys since my last update. Here are two graphs which is a good way to highlight the main trends (note the two different scales). Siskins had one more good season but there was virtually no sign of them last winter. I finally got a Nyger feeder and even though I only put it up in January the dramatic effect it had on Goldfinch and Redpoll numbers is evident.

Graph of 4 species of interest 2015


Graph of 4 abundant birds 2015

Oran O’Sullivan coordinates this survey for Birdwatch Ireland and it was great to meet him last year at a talk he gave in Naas for our Kildare branch. In his analysis of the 2014/15 results (Wings No. 79) he noted that ‘the winter had no snow events, no cold snaps, and hence fewer noticeable movements of birds into gardens’. He confirmed the scarcity of Siskins – due mainly to a good seed harvest in conifer forests – traditionally, Siskins make a late-winter appearance in gardens when the cone harvest in plantations is depleted. He also noted the huge movement of Goldfinches into gardens from an occurrence in just six gardens in 1994/95 to 588 gardens in 2014/15. I shot this video in January 2013.

Garden Bird Survey – 10 years on

I am presently participating in Birdwatch Ireland’s Garden Bird Survey for the 11th time. As I therefore have 10 complete surveys, and this is usually a minimum period for statistical significance, I carried out an analysis of my data over the Christmas period. I’ll put a link to what I’ve written up as soon as I figure out how to do it so for now here’s a graph of four species which I find interesting.

Graph of 4 birds feb 2014

Here’s the link to ‘Pat’s Garden Bird Survey 2003-13’ in OneDrive followed by two of my YouTube videos.