I have a confession to make. I am the garden bird equivalent of a trainspotter. For the last three years I have not only been watching birds in my garden, but recording details of the numbers of individuals of each species I see.
Each day that I work from home I keep an eye (and ear) out for birds in the garden, and record the maximum number of individuals seen at the same time from each species. Over the last 3 years I have clocked up 153 days worth of observations, and lots of completed forms.
While I appreciate that this makes me seem slightly obsessive and sad, it also means I have lots of lovely data to play with. This allows me to monitor trends over time, and see how changes in the garden, weather and seasons affect my feathered visitors.
This behaviour came as a surprise to me. I’ve always considered myself more of a mammal person than a bird fan. I saw birds as nice, but a bit dull (unless they were spectacular kingfishers or powerful birds of prey).
Then we moved house and got a garden. I don’t know when I changed my mind, but soon after moving we installed the bird feeding station, and waited for our first feathered visitors. And waited. And waited.
We had to wait almost a month before we saw the first bird in our garden. Our first visitors were a pair of collared doves. Then more and more types of birds started visiting. Something clicked, and I realised that the garden birds were wild creatures I could watch from the comfort of my own home. And they had their own characteristics. And I could watch real life mini dramas being played out in front of me.
I’m still not sure where the urge to obsessively keep records comes from. I think it must be from working with statisticians for too long. And the transformation is not complete – real twitchers wouldn’t consider me as one of their own. I don’t travel the country in the hope of seeing a rare small brown bird. I’d still choose a glimpse of otter or badger over the rarest of feathered migrants any day.
But I do enjoy watching the birds in the garden. Observing a species we’ve never seen in the garden before makes my day.
Having got that confession out of the way, I’ll try and share some of my observations with you in future posts…