Out There column: Birds of a feather do flock together

Out There.
Out There.
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The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch took place at the weekend and I was one of the willing participants.

It was a wild and grey day on Sunday – not the best weather for birdwatching – but that was the only time I had free.

I didn’t expect to spot many birds, however, I was pleasantly surprised to note that a wide variety of species paid a visit to our back garden in Caton. A flock of sparrows appeared to be blown in on the high winds. Pelted by rain, they jostled for position on the feeding tray.

At one point I counted ten of them swaying together on a snowberry bush. I hadn’t realised that some many sparrows lived nearby.

I was particularly delighted to see this as house sparrows have been in decline across the UK.

Apart from the house sparrows, I had a visit from three blackbirds, three jackdaws, a robin, a chaffinch, a black-headed gull, two bluetits, a coal tit and a dunnock.

Starlings, pheasants, goldfinches, long-tailed tits, mallard ducks, crows, rooks, wrens and woodpeckers also visit our garden on a regular basis. I try to encourage them by providing lots of bird food and planting trees and shrubs that they can perch on. My most regular and least fearless visitors are the blackbirds who hop right up to me in search of food.

They are particularly fond of raisins and sunflower seeds.

I’m hoping that when the spring arrives they will sing their hearts out and once more fill our garden with exquisite birdsong. All of the valuable data collected during the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch is currently being collated.

Once this has been checked and pieced together, the RSPB will be able to monitor trends and understand how different birds coping in the wild.

The results will be published soon so I’ll endeavour to keep you updated.

I did the hour-long survey on my own as my husband Mark (Sparky) was away for the weekend. He told me that he was on a beach in Norfolk when the skies opened and rain poured down.

Lightning bolts lit up the sky so he ran for cover. He stood under some crumbling cliffs – not the brightest ideas – but lived to tell the tale.