I do enjoy a bit of record keeping and number crunching and now that we’re convincingly into 2022 I’ve had a look at my bird records for 2021 and particularly the comparison with the previous year.
The main record that I keep is simply to log on a weekly basis the bird species that I see in the garden. The bird has to be in the garden or in a tree overhanging the garden, flying overhead doesn’t count. The log in this way doesn’t take account of the number of birds seen, for example if I saw 1 Starling or 20 Starlings. I just note for the week in question that a starling was seen in the garden.
I did a similar analysis last year for the records of 2020 which can be found here, and I’ve compared 2021 with this.
The first conclusion is that across the year I had fewer different bird species in the garden in 2021 compared to 2020. In 2020 the total was 27 different species compared to only 24 in 2021. Last year I didn’t spot any Green Woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Marsh Tits or Firecrests.
However I did have 1 new addition compared to 2021, the Chiffchaff, described in more detail here.
The comparison on a weekly basis, shown in the graph below, is also quite telling.
In the graph, the Blue line is 2020 and the Red is 2021, and they are very comparable for the first 6 months of the year. But for the second 6 months of 2021 the trend is that there were fewer species compared to 2020.
My conclusion is that this is due to the introduction of my two domestic cats into the garden. As a family we’ve greatly enjoyed having them, and the positives have been many, but undoubtedly it has had a negative impact on the bird activity in the garden. The cats have only caught and killed a very few birds, maybe 4, but their presence does scare them away. Especially those which feed on the ground, and which are therefore much more vulnerable.
I’m learning how to make the garden safer for the birds by repositioning the feeders and bird boxes and also adding some protective measures. So hopefully there will be some rebound in 2022.
The only bird that still has a 100% presence record, that is to say I’ve seen it in the garden every week since January 2020 is, unsurprisingly the Great Tit. My No 1 garden bird friend.
I’ve already said that there were some birds completely missing in 2021 compared to 2020. Ignoring these, the records of 2021 also show some bird species on the rise and others on the decline, in my garden at least, compared to 2020. The big winners and losers are shown below.
As said earlier all of the losers are ground feeding birds, looks like the cat factor again. I think that the reason for the Blackcap being the big winner was that I had some individuals over-winter in my garden last year. Typically they are summer visitors which head South for the winter. I’ve read that one of the impacts of climate change, and the generally warmer temperatures, is that birds which typically migrate South for the European winter may not need to head so far. Blackcaps are in this category and the individuals which spend the winter in my garden, regularly using the fat ball feeders, may have come down from somewhere like the UK.
My Bird year highlight from 2021 was the Robin Nest in one of the camera nest boxes. It was really fascinating to watch this, and in particularly the differences with the Great Tit nest. It was much quicker and much more secretive. Without the camera I would never have known that it was there, the chicks maintain a strict radio silence to protect themselves from potential predators.
It also provided lots of lovely images, it’s difficult to pick a favourite but I’ll go with this.
My last comment on the weekly records is that I find it impossible to take records 52 weeks of the year, sometimes I’m just not here! But I did a bit better in 2021 with 47 weeks compared to 2020 with 41 weeks. I’m becoming borderline neurotic about keeping my records!
So onwards into 2022. I’m hoping for a good bird year, particularly wishing for a pair of swifts to use my lovely nest box.
If you are at all interested in the bird activity in your garden or environment I would really encourage you to participate to the annual Garden Bird count weekend which this year is on 29-30th January. Wonderfully it’s run on the same weekend in both the UK and France and you can find the necessary information at the links below.
For the UK : Big Garden Birdwatch | The RSPB
For France : Toutes les nouvelles – www.oiseauxdesjardins.fr
I manage to do it most years, my results from 2020 are here, and I’ll share them again for this year in a couple of weeks.
Wishing you all a very good Bird year.