Garden Bird Records

If I have learnt one thing from the creation of 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 allows 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 I keep the results up to date in the graphs below.

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 also to keep some of the more occassional 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 visitors across the year.

First thing to note in the above graph are the gaps. These are weeks when I don’t take any records. Obviously there will always be a few blank weeks when I’m not present but I hope to reduce this to a minimum.

The general trend is that the best period for birds visiting the garden is November-March, Winter through to early Spring. The worst period is 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 from my garden.

I’m not sure that any improvements I make to the garden environment will change this general 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 my results to the site ‘Oiseaux des jardins’ run by the LPO, the French equivalent of the RSPB. They use the information to construct a much bigger picture of bird activity. I think in the UK the RSPB or BTO do something similar.

Apart from this, at this stage, I don’t have enough data to draw significant conclusions. Typically during the hour of observation I see some or all of the resident birds, in quite small numbers. Perhaps the variety of species and the numbers will vary over time?

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