Sunday, 10 April 2011

RSPB Garden Birdwatch and a Competition


This year’s RSPB Garden Birdwatch results were announced last week and makes interesting reading as usual.

Over 600,000 took part and the sparrow took the top spot for the eighth year in a row. Surprisingly the harsh winter hasn't seemed to have affected sightings of the smallest, most vulnerable birds as expected. Coal tit, goldcrest and long-tailed tit sightings were all up on the previous year and it's thought they bounced back over last year's summer with an above average breeding season. This is quite different to what I found (scroll down to the end to see my results) in my garden!

Whilst this is indeed good news, the record dry weather we’ve experienced over the past month or so demonstrates how important it still is to look after our feathered friends. I’ve seen plenty of birds in my garden recently foraging for food without much success in my dried out clay soil. So I’ve continued with the supplementary feeding, especially now I can hear hungry mouths cheeping for food in the conifers not far from our patio doors.

With this in mind, I’m delighted I’m holding a bird care competition so that the winners can keep the birds in their garden happy in the years to come. The prizes have been supplied courtesy of Argos, who provide a wide range of sheds for your garden including metal and wooden sheds as well as a fantastic range of Garden Furniture.

All you need to do is leave me a comment below giving me your top tip for attracting birds to your garden or allotment plot. That way we’ll also get a useful list of tips together for everyone to use as a future resource.

Competition details
  1. The competition is open to UK readers only (sorry, but postage costs abroad will be too much for me!). However, it would be great if non-UK readers take part by leaving your top tips, so we get a good reference list together for later
  2. First prize comprises: a. 1 deluxe bird table
    b. 2 tubs of bird seed
    c. Bird nest box set
  3. There are 2 runners up prizes of bird box sets
  4. You enter by leaving a comment with your top tip for attracting birds to your garden or plot. 1 entry only per person
  5. If you are leaving a comment with no means of me contacting you via a link, you will also need to leave contact details e.g. your email address (with the @ and . in words, so you don't get the attentions of any spam bots e.g. vegplotting at gmail dot com) or TwitterId. Failure to do so will invalidate your entry
  6. The closing date is midnight BST on Sunday, 24th April
  7. Names of the winners will be drawn from my magic terracotta pot on April 25th (the day after the closing date) and the lucky winners will be notified immediately ;)
  8. Argos will deliver your prize, therefore you will need to be happy for me to pass on your contact details to them. I will do this for the prize winners only. Competition prizes will be delivered within 28 days of the competition closing and may vary from the prizes described.
Good luck and don't forget it's International Dawn Chorus Day on May 1st!

17 comments:

  1. Non UK here but would like to say, we think having water in the garden goes a long way towards attracting and keeping birds. In winter we have a warm water bird bath which isn't used for that purpose by the birds, but it is visited steadily for drinking. I know it is vital to them, when all else is frozen. Also, feeding all year long is appreciated.

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  2. Hi VP,
    Here is my hint to attracting birds to your garden even when you have a cat, or there are lots of cats in your area.

    I have one of those bird feeders with a single metal pole and two hooks either side. It's about 6ft high, once in the ground. The way to make it safe from cats for birds is to make sure you position it so that the cat has nothing a it cam jump from nearby (ie. no tree, wall etc). I have lots of plants around the bottom of mine (extending a few feet from the pole), which makes it impossible for the cat to sit under or to try and sneak up on.

    My cat used to spend a lot of time watching the birds who visit the feeder, but never has pretty much given up because he simply cannot sneak up on them and has no chance of catching them. So I enjoy the company of my cat and the visits from birds including blue and great tits, coal tits, sparrows, chaffinches, green finches etc...

    Julieanne jgp at cooptel dot net

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  3. Feed, feed, feed all year round. And put out a mixture of foods, especially suet in winter (high calorie), and peanut nibs and sunflower seeds. The more you feed, the more birds you get.

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  4. argh, I just realised I made some stupid errors in my post. Guess I shouldn't write after gardening all day... meant to say... (feel free to delete the other one)

    Here is my hint to attracting birds to your garden even when you have a cat, or there are lots of cats in your area.

    I have one of those bird feeders with a single metal pole and two hooks either side. It's about 6ft high, once in the ground. The way to make it safe from cats is to make sure you position it so that the cat has nothing that it can jump from nearby (ie. no tree, wall etc). I also have lots of plants around the bottom (extending a few feet from the pole), which makes it impossible for the cat to sit under or to try and sneak up on.

    My cat used to spend a lot of time watching the birds who visit the feeder, but has pretty much given up because he simply cannot sneak up on them and has no chance of catching them. So I enjoy the company of my cat and the visits from birds including blue and great tits, coal tits, sparrows, chaffinches, green finches etc...

    Julieanne jgp at cooptel dot net

    ReplyDelete
  5. My suggestion is for those with apple or pear trees. Don't clear away all the windfalls in the autumn, or put them somewhere else birds can get to them during the winter. Blackbirds love them all the time (I'm still putting out old apples for them now), and in midwinter you can get flocks of birds - redwings, fieldfares and the odd thrush - feeding on them - we had lots coming for days when the snow was on the ground in December.

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  6. Hi,

    My top tip has to be to feed sunerflower hearts. All birds love them. And having them in the garden will attract every birds in the local area from the tits, to finches, robins, blackbirds and even the more uncommon species such as Redpolls, Song Thrushes, Bullfinches and Jays. Be sure to feed in a variety of different ways, as sone birds won't cling to a feeder and prefer to feed on the ground or off a table.
    The birds here go straight for the sunnie hearts, all other food types are a second best, including fat balls and peanuts.

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  7. Hello
    my tip for getting birds (but ducks in particular ) to visit andd nest in your pond is to have at least one side as a graded entrance to the water, they do not like dropping in off a high edge put prefer the sedate slide in :) Cat
    feeling_fantabulous at hotmail dot com

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  8. Ok, I'm a total noob to birding so my advice is probably old news to most of you folks. BUT, I've found that having a variety of foods helps - I've got peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. I seem to get a mix of birds... especially tits and sparrows, and my favorite, the jolly woodpecker. Good times!

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  9. Hiya, for attracting birds to my garden which at 4am they are so loud they must love it!!! I have 2 mixed nut and sunflower feeders both with fat balls underneath. We recently put up a robin nesting box as they seemed to like nesting in our ladder so have also put a special robin feed mix up too (strange that only robins are attracted to it what clever birds they all are). We are redoing the grass area at the moment so a quick dig over each day ensures lots of worms for our hungry feathered visitors im twittering away Allotment18

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  10. Thanks for all your great tips everyone - keep them coming :)

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  11. I agree with Bren about the importance of water, but my other top tip is not to use chemicals in the garden, or (if you really must) at least not to spray everything at the first sign of insect damage. Birds are a very efficient natural pest control, and young birds need to be fed on moist rather than dry food, so anyone with plenty of juicy insects in their garden will soon have plenty of birds as well.

    wv agrees with me about going chemical-free - it's pures ;)

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  12. A variety of foods, fresh water, no chemicals, and evergreen cover near to the bird feeding area.

    (oh, and a good pair of binoculars on the kitchen windowsill!)

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  13. We seem to have success by keeping a variety of foods available and making sure there is always something there in the winter months. I guess it allows the birds to get into a routine when they need it most. Also, mealworms... Wow, the birds seem to go crazy for them! :)

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  14. Great to see more entries - last day today!

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  15. Sadly I have had to give up traditional bird feeders for the moment as we had a rat infestation in the winter and we're just waiting to see if there is any recurrence-none so far. So I have made my planting as bird friendly as possible, lots of berrying shrubs (for nesting and feeding), a tall water bath topped up daily and seedheads left on until spring. Some areas are left wild with long grass and nettles, logpiles for insects etc. A bird friendly garden is an insect friendly one! I keep some of my surplus apples overwinter in a shed and put some out daily. I've even been known to throw grey water on the lawn so the birds can get the worms when its dry. And uncovering the compost heap is a great favourite with robins, who are never far away.

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  16. I find having several small feeders and fat ball holders at different heights and locations attracts a wide range of birds - and water dishes everywhere of course.

    barbara at beeson dot stargate dot co dot uk

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  17. Jan and Beabee - fantastic tips, thank you :)

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