Alan’s Bird Box

Following on from the hit Craic Whores feature Alan’s Bird Box (first aired four years ago), at the end of January I participated in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. On a rainy Sunday afternoon I sat for an hour in Royal Fort Gardens, right in the heart of the University of Bristol campus, and recorded the maximum occurrence* of all different bird species at any one time during a one hour period. Over 300,000 people took part in the survey so far with more than 8 million birds spotted. Check out a very brief summary of the results here. Hooray for crowd sourced research!

*By counting the maximum occurrence at one time this prevents recounting from messing up the results.

Given I was sitting in the middle of Bristol, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of birds I saw. I think the rain was light enough to not bother the birds, but heavy enough to bother walkers who would have otherwise been disturbing them. In carrying out the survey and in the weeks since, I have realised that it takes at least five minutes of sitting still before you really start to become aware of and appreciate what’s going on around you. You need to have your eye in for the stillness before you notice the individual rustling of a small bird and you need to familiarise yourself with background noise before you can pick out when a new bird has started calling from a nearby tree. Then it turns out there are lots of birds, even in the middle of the city and with no food scattered to attract them.

I’m not a master bird watcher (despite what we led you to believe on Craic Whores), but here is what I think I saw that rainy afternoon:

8 wood pigeons
6 blackbirds
3 magpies
3 rooks
3 great tits (possibly blue tits, hard to tell from a distance)
2 mallard ducks
2 robins
1 house sparrow
1 chaffinch (female)
1 wren
1 dunnock

+ 4 grey squirrels

I challenge you now to spend your lunch hour in Royal Fort Gardens (whatever the weather) and see if you can see more birds than me. There are no prizes for the most birds spotted (but results are happily received via email or in writing); the best thing about doing this is sitting still, outside, doing nothing other than just looking and listening. That’s your prize. That’s all for this week’s Alan’s Bird Box!

Remember to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch January 2017. Set a reminder in your calendar now!

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