Wednesday, March 30, 2016

RSPB Garden Birdwatch 2016

This year the Birdwatch was carried out over the weekend of the 30th and 31st of January. I did mine on the Saturday between 08:00 and 09:00, which was the earliest start ever, since I first started back in 2001.

I particularly like to monitor the Finches and Sparrows as per the bar chart above. House Sparrows and Goldfinches seem to be holding up well, but there have been no Chaffinches since 2013. However, I saw my first Greenfinch this year since 2010. The general decline in Chaffinches and Greenfinches is thought to be due to a disease called Trichomonosis, which was once a common disease in Pigeons and Doves.

Starlings are another species I like to monitor closely, and the chart above shows that they seem to be recovering slightly in my garden. This is probably due to the regular feeding of mealworms housed in a adjustable cage to keep out larger birds such as Pigeon and Magpie.

8 Species of birds were recorded this year with a grand total of 31 seen. These were as follows:
Blackbird 1
Blue Tit 2
Goldfinch 3
Greenfinch 1
House Sparrow 6
Magpie 2
Starling 8
Wood Pigeon 8
The number of Wood Pigeons has obviously swelled the total somewhat and over the last 4 years there has been quite a decline in the total number of birds seen and also the number of species. I still think this is due to the obsession with removing trees and large shrubs from gardens. In my daughters garden on a similar type housing estate to mine, she has two fairly large trees along with others in nearby neighbours. The number of birds she observes is quite incredible. Along with the 'normal' she has regular visits of Nuthatch, Brambling, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Marsh Tit and Blackcap.

There are of course a few other birds regularly seen in my garden, but have not turned up during the birdwatch. These are Dunnock, Robin, Wren and Pied Wagtail.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Garden Butterfly Review 2015

There was a lot of talk this year of another possible mass invasion of Painted Lady butterflies similar to the year 2009. It did notch up its second best Big Butterfly Count performance across the country, but this wasn't really reflected in my own garden sightings. Only singletons were recorded in the garden during May, June and August.

The biggest change was the number of months (5) when the Holly Blue was recorded. This was a record for this butterfly, and the first dates when seen were as follows:
April 17th : May 4th : June 24th : July 31st : Aug 7th.
There are normally two broods for this species - Apr/May and July onwards.
Therefore the one seen on June 24th could have been a late first brood or an early second brood.
My sightings seem to reflect its joint highest Big Butterfly Count total (151% increase on 2014).

August was the most prolific month this year with 10 species seen, and this equals the record for that month set in 2009. Overall, 14 species were noted for the year (13 average) and 36 first dates when a butterfly was recorded (30 average) making this a good year for garden butterflies.