Wednesday, 25 March 2009

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2009 - national results

The RSPB published their Big Garden Birdwatch 2009 results today, with more than half a million people taking part - more than ever before - and also a surprise new entrant in the Top Ten.

The top 10 for Greater London are:
House Sparrow
Blue Tit
Feral Pigeon
Great tit
Collared dove

and our own results for Hilly Fields (we had a tie for 10th place) are:
Black-headed Gull
House Sparrow
Feral Pigeon
Carrion Crow
Blue Tit, Magpie, Common Gull
Blackbird, Ring-necked Parakeet, Mistle Thrush
The full RSPB results can be found here

Thanks again to all who took part in Hilly Fields.

Friday, 20 March 2009

"Who Killed the Cockney Sparrer?"

Listening to Radio 4 last Thursday I bumped into this programme in which "Nature detective Tom Heap investigates who, or what, is killing the common sparrow."

I found it quite interesting, especially because it mentions the 66 test feeding sites around London, of which my garden is one. Also, about 20 minutes in, Chris Orsman describes how they catch and ring birds - Chris is my contact at RSPB and visits my garden and Hilly Fields Park regularly to survey the birds.

If you'd like to hear more of the mystery of the disappearing sparrow, you have until Thurdsay 25th March 2009 to Listen Again, so here is a link to the programme's website.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Goldcrests and hedge trimming

Next week Glendale aim to trim the hedge that borders the gardens on the north-east (Cliffview Road) side of the park, so I had a good look at the birdlife in the hedge today on my way to the Farmers' Market and the Ladywell Assembly.

Flitting from branch to branch today were about 16 House Sparrows, a solitary male Blackbird and a pair of restless Goldcrests. I've received a few reports of Goldcrests in the neighbourhood but this is the first time I've spotted any in Hilly Fields over the last couple of years. The BirdTrack site has none at all reported for Hilly Fields (or map reference TQ3775) since their records began in 2005.

This is a stock photo of a Goldcrest, not mine.

Often described as a snooker ball with legs, they're the smallest British bird and suprisingly common as there's probably 5M pairs around in the winter months, reducing to 1.5M pairs in the summer.

Very slightly larger and much much rarer at 400 pairs is the Firecrest, similar but with a bold white eyebrow.

The park was quite busy, so few other birds were around except 10 Woodpigeons and a pair of Magpies in the meadow.


3pm Friday 20th March

Sorry to say the hedge hasn't been trimmed yet, let's hope that late trimming doesn't disturb the all-too-rare House Sparrows.