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Friday, 31 December 2010

What An Ending!! - 31st December, 2010

With all the building work going on behind my garden during the first half of the year, the chances of the 2010 garden bird list reaching the 2009 level looked remote – until the end of the year!!! No doubt due to the really hard weather, December turned out to be a really magical month, with the last week in the year easily being the best, and probably 28th December, or possibly 30th December, being the best day of the year. On 28th our postage stamp suburban garden hosted 2 Brambling, 2 Lesser Redpoll (year tick), 4 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Blackcap, 1 Grey Wagtail, 1 Song Thrush, plus all the other birds that are usually seen on pretty much a daily basis. The 30th was also a great day as the Brambling and Redpoll were still with us, but we had our first Reed Bunting for about 20 years.

The 2010 garden total (birds that actually landed in our garden - no ‘fly overs’) was 31 – three more than last year. Seen last year, but not this, were Bullfinch and Siskin. Seen this year, and not last, were Fieldfare, GS Woodpecker, Brambling, Reed Bunting, and Grey Heron.

With all these birds around, it has been particularly frustrating that, following Christmas Day’s sunshine, the weather has been continually dull, grey, and damp. Any photography that I have managed has had to be at ISO 1600, usually at about 1/100th of a second – which is not good, handheld on a 400mm lens! However, I have managed some ‘record images’ and a few that are a little better than that.


Reed Bunting (female)


Lesser Redpoll

The water temperature in our pond dropped to less than minus 2 degrees. The small pond that the birds usually drink from froze solid, and is now severely damaged (it’s still full of ice, but emptying as the ice thaws), so I have got major work to do there as I’m pretty sure it’s the underground piping that’s burst. Although the ice on the main pond was over a foot (30cm) thick in places, I managed to keep an area ice-free by blowing ‘indoor’ air into the water through an air stone. The birds managed to find their way across the ice to get to the water, as shown below.

Blackbird (male)

House Sparrow (male)

Song Thrush is quite a rare visitor to our garden, except during very harsh winter weather. This one seems to have adopted our garden as its home in the last week or so.

Song Thrush


We are also feeding the squirrels at the moment. I know that they're not everyone's favourite creature, but they're very welcome in our garden.

Grey Squirrel

I’m just hoping that the Redpoll and Brambling are still there tomorrow (they are today) so that I get the 2011 garden list off to a good start. It would also be a real bonus if they hung around until there is brighter weather, so that I can get some half-decent photos! I really don't like images of birds on feeders, but on feeders is better than none, when it's for the record.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!


  1. Happy New Year Richard.
    Look forward to seeing more outstanding images from you in 2011

  2. Thank you John. A Happy New Year to you and Sue! I'm looking forward to more really great images from you both too.


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