Last weekend was the Weekend National de Comptage des Oiseaux des Jardins here in France, quite a mouth full. As a dutiful nature lover and record keeper I happily participated, making my count during one hour early yesterday morning.
The results were not startling but I share them with you below. My Blog remains in English but in recognition of the National character of the event I’ve added the bird names in French.
I also did the same count for the UK Big Garden Bird Watch exercise in January. This is the UK version and it is exactly the same thing, count the birds in the garden for one hour. Apart from the weather, yesterday I sat outside in beautiful sunshine, no coats required, there are a few differences and a lot of similarities with the results I had in January.
There are birds present on both lists and these are some of the residents to my garden, present all year round and seen in the garden everyday. However even for these there was a clear difference from the exercise in January.
I always imagined that the UK holds the count in January as generally speaking there are more garden birds in Winter than Summer. Many more birds come into our garden to shelter from the worst of the weather and take the easy food from our feeders. However holding the count in May, really at the peak of the breeding season means that there are lots of juvenile birds in the gardens, young, newly fledge birds that are still with their parents until they become fully independent.
Yesterday during my count, the Great Tits that I saw (5) were a single family, 2 adults and 3 juveniles. The juveniles make a lot of noise as the are still being fed, and therefore still begging for food, from the adults. The same for the Dunnocks, which yesterday was a single adult with 2 juveniles.
Unlike in January I didn’t see a Crested Tit, and they are probably gone now until the Winter. However if I had taken the count a couple of weeks ago I would have recorded a family of Crested Tits, which this year must have nested close by. Obviously a little earlier than the Great Tits and Dunnocks.
Apart from the presence of family groups and juveniles I think this is the big difference between the counts in January and May. In January some of the small overwintering birds are present, Crested Tit and Coal Tit and in May they are replaced by Starlings for example, which I tend not to see in the garden until Spring.
Finally I think it’s important to thank the excellent people and organisations behind these initiatives, the LPO here in France and the BTO in the UK. Charitable organisations making a real difference for, and getting a lot of people envolved, in nature and the natural world. Clearly we are going to need a lot more of this in the future.