2013 has been quite a remarkable year for us in our suburban
'postage stamp' of a garden. Each year I record the birds which visit us. To
count they have to actually set a foot down in our garden or on its boundaries.
Until this year our record, set in 2012, was 32 species. This year we achieved
The hard winter at the beginning of the year probably helped
this total immensely, although I'd not wish the suffering it caused on any
These aren't my best garden images for the year but are the ones that are most appropriate to each month. I've also limited myself to one per month!
By the end of 1st January we'd had a meagre 10 species - all
common garden birds. 2nd January added only two more (common ) species to the
list. However, on 3rd, Lesser Redpoll was added to the list and these stayed
with us for a few months. Brambling (also long-stayers) arrived on 9th. A spell
of particularly bad weather brought a Mistle Thrush (a garden 'lifer') and
Redwing on 18th, followed by Blackcap (20th), Reed Bunting (21st) and Fieldfare
(22nd). We ended the month with 26 species under our belt.
|Lesser Redpoll - our garden on 16th January, 2013|
On 7th February we added Treecreeper (another garden
'lifer'), and Nuthatch (not a rare bird, but uncommon in our garden), followed
by Siskin on 8th. Only these three species were added to the list, bringing the
total up to 29.
Good numbers of Brambling and Lesser Redpoll were visiting
us on a frequent basis.
|Brambling (female) - our garden on 22nd February, 2013|
March added another three species to the list - Song Thrush
on 9th (very rare in our garden), Rook on 23rd (another garden 'lifer') and
Goldcrest on 29th (a real rarity for us, only seen once in the previous four
Siskins and Redpolls were visiting us in good numbers
throughout the month, and Bramblings were still visiting on an occasional
|Siskin (male) - our garden on 25th March, 2013|
Only two species were added to the list, but the first was a
magnificent male Redstart which briefly settled on our garden fence on 13th.
This was not only a garden 'lifer' but the first recorded sighting of the year
for Leicestershire & Rutland! The second, a Willow Warbler, (on 15th) was
also exciting for me but pretty insignificant in the wake of the Redstart.
I didn't realise the significance at the time, but we
started to get occasional visits from a female Great-spotted Woodpecker, who
was feeding from our giant fat balls.
Bramblings, Siskins, and Lesser Redpolls continued to visit.
The last Brambling of the winter (a female) was seen on 17th April, and the
last Siskin (a male) was seen on 29th.
|Redstart (male) - our garden on 13th April, 2013|
Only one species was added to the list in June, and this was
the Carrion Crow. This used to be a common visitor but, although frequently
seen from the garden, it's become a rare visitor. The last Lesser Redpoll of
the winter was seen on 1st of the month. Throughout the month, both male and
female GS Woodpeckers were visiting on a daily basis.
|Great Spotted Woodpecker (female) - our garden on 5th May, 2013|
The GS Woodpecker visits to the fat balls became even more
frequent and frantic, with huge amounts being taken away, and we knew that it
would not be long before the juveniles fledged. The first juvenile GS Woody
appeared on our fat balls on 17th. We've no idea how many juveniles there were
as they tended to come singly, and when two arrived at the same time there was
Stock Dove (another garden 'lifer') was added to the list on
12th June, bringing the total number of species to 36.
|Bullfinch (male) - our garden on 8th June, 2013|
The GS Woodpecker family continued to delight us with
regular visits from juveniles and adults until 6th of the month. No new species
this month, but the two Stock Doves visited regularly until 22nd. I was still
engaged on the garden project for most of the month, which didn't help matters. So you get two GS Woody images in this roundup!
|Great Spotted Woodpecker (juvenile) - our garden on 2nd July, 2013|
No new species this month, and not a lot of activity
in the garden either, the only highlight being a visit from a female GS
Woodpecker. Feeling I have to put in something in the way of an image, this is the best I can manage from a month when I didn't use my camera in the garden much!
|Coal Tit - our garden on 28th September, 2013|
A Chiffchaff (only seen in one previous year), which visited
on the first day of the month, and hung around for a few days, was the last
(and welcome) addition to the garden year list. The most remarkable feature of
the garden was the huge number of House Sparrows (by our standards - peaking at
32) which took up residence in the Clematis outside our back door, and the
Honeysuckle on the adjacent fence.
|Sparrowhawk (male) - our garden on 14th September, 2013|
Birds in the garden thinned out a bit, possibly because
there were plentiful alternative sources of food in the wild, but certainly not
helped by frequent visits from a male Sparrowhawk. I'm totally struggling for garden bird images for October and November, so you'll have to put up with bug images!
|Common Green Shieldbug - our garden on 13th October, 2013|
November was a relatively quiet month in our garden, not
helped by the next door neighbours having extensive building work done adjacent
to our garden, plus continuing visits from the Sprawk when the builders weren't
around. Bird food consumption dropped to about a third of the norm.
|Harlequin Ladybird? - our garden on 27th November, 2013|
It's been a great end to the year with garden birds, with
Fieldfare, Redwing (in unprecedented numbers), Mistle Thrush (2 - and a garden
'lifer' in January - visiting on an occasional basis), Lesser Redpoll (2, but
only twice on same day), Goldcrest, and Reed Bunting visiting. We've also seen
GS Woodpecker returning occasionally, after a long absence.
Due to a combination of bad weather, bad light, and bad positioning, I've not yet managed any images of these winter visitors that I'm happy with. This is the best of a bad bunch.
To sum up:
|Mistle Thrush - our garden on 11th December, 2013.|
me it's been an exciting year for garden birds with the greatest
variety ever, and in greater numbers, in many cases, than we're used to.
highlights stick out for me. for totally different reasons. The first
is the April Redstart. This was mega-excitement for me, and we're
unlikely to get such a comparative rarity ever again. The second was the
GS Woody family which supplied us with utter delight for many days.
there were any disappointments, it would have to be the absence of
Willow Tit, that we used to have sightings of every year, and also the
absence of Grey and Pied Wagtails, that we could rely on in Spring and
Autumn, when we had a pond in the garden.
I'll take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a very healthy, happy, and prosperous 2014. May all your wishes come true.