If I have learnt one thing from starting this blog and website it is that the taking of systematic records is of absolute importance. This applies particularly for birds which are, along with insects, the most numerous and frequent visitors to the garden.
I have made some trials and lots of errors and I have for the time being resolved on two records that I maintain for the bird activity.
The first is a very simple record of the types of birds that I see in the garden each week. The period runs from Monday to Sunday and I simple record if the species of bird was seen in the garden during the week. I do not make a count of the number of birds seen.
This record has allowed me to understand how many different species visit the garden, which types of birds are the most frequent visitors and also how this varies throughout the year. I started making the record in January 2020 and the full results for 2020 give a good baseline against which future years can be measured.
I gave some preliminary results in a blog earlier this year but as we are now at the end of December the full results are in. Final Scores for 2020!
The final tally for the number of different bird species which visited the garden during 2020 is 27. The graph shows which were the least frequent visitors and those which were basically permanently present, my residents. I would suggest that anything above 80% is a resident species.
One small caveat on these results is that it is much easier to record the presence of birds which regularly use the bird feeders, they are much more visible. For example the Wren is probably more present than the 24% shown above. However it’s a very small bird which spends it’s time moving quickly through the undergrowth. Although it can be easy to hear it is difficult to spot and therefore perhaps under-represented in my records.
As my garden improves for nature, increasing the volume of insects and also the number of shrubs and trees bearing fruit and berries, I would hope to attract a few more species and to keep some of the more occasional visitors in the garden a little longer. This will be a trend to watch in 2021.
The weekly records also provide the graph below which shows the variation of bird species across the year.
First thing to note in the above graph are the gaps. These are weeks when I didn’t take any records. Obviously there will always be a few blank weeks when I’m not present but in total I missed 11 weeks in 2020, which I think is a few too many. I hope to improve this in 2021.
The maximum number of bird species seen in the garden in any single week during 2020 was 19, which was the week beginning the 14th December. The fewest species recorded was 9, the week beginning the 2nd November. The average across all weeks was about 14.
The general trend is that the best period for birds visiting the garden is November-March, Winter through to early Spring. The worst period during 2020 was summer, the months of July-September.
This is all quite typical and not an unsurprising finding. Birds need suburban gardens more in the winter, in the summer months, with an abundance of natural food sources, they will spend more time away.
I’m not sure that any improvements I make to the garden environment will change this overall trend. What I can potentially hope to see is a general increase in the number of visiting species.
The second type of record that I take is an hourly survey where I count the bird activity during a specific hour. During this period I record both the different species that visit and also the number of birds I see at any one time. Following my initial counting errors, see the blog ‘Update on the Garden Birds’, I have been making the survey on a more or less weekly basis since 11th November.
I upload the results to the LPO website where they compile an overall picture for France. The RSPB or BTO do a similar thing in the UK.
At this stage, I don’t have enough data to draw any conclusions. Typically during the hour of observation I see some or all of the resident birds, normally in quite small numbers. Perhaps the variety of species and the numbers will vary over time? I will keep going with the records in 2021 and we shall see.
So as we start 2021, and perhaps you are thinking of a resolution or two, why not consider making some records of the bird activity in your garden. They call it ‘Citizen Science’ and I can heartily recommend it.
Thanks again for following the blog and don’t forget to keep checking out the website. I update the various nature logs on a regular basis and in general keep the content evolving, not all of which is shared via the blog Posts.
It just leaves me to wish you all a Happy New Year and an excellent 2021. It can surely only be an improvement on 2020.
PS: I sent out a Blog Post earlier this week which was just a collection of nest box pictures. Apologies for this. It was not meant to be sent as a Blog Post, I was actually just trying to upload some pictures to the site for later use. I’ve learnt my lesson, I know how it works now, apologies for the SPAM!