I was all ready; the feeders were full, the birdbath thawed, pen, paper and binoculars to hand and a cup of steaming coffee ready to drink.
I had only filled the feeders that were close to the house; those hanging on the cherry tree outside our downstairs bedroom window.
That way I wouldn’t have to strain to see what birds were at the bottom of the garden.
I made one last visit outside to put down some extra food foraged from the kitchen as recommended in my birdwatch pack and then retired behind the window to wait.
There was a little flurry of activity when three brownish birds landed on the feeder tree. Oh help – were they dunnocks or female sparrows?
I decided on dunnocks.
Then I could hear the screeching of the overlarge Aberdeen seagulls. I could see them circling. That would not help the more shy birds feel safe enough to feed.
I dashed out and moved the larger food items to the bottom of the garden. Here they were devoured in a few minutes.
The Aberdeen Herring gulls are very large birds and we have thousands of them. They are not well loved, being very noisy and aggressive; there has even been a call in the past for these birds to be fed contraceptive pills! I usually try not to feed them!
Anyway after that initial flurry all went quiet.
I sat and I waited
And I waited and I sat.
Not a bird was in sight. I decided that my birds were obeying a law of Physics called the ‘Observer Affect’. This states that you cannot measure certain systems without changing the thing you are trying to measure. It is a bit like measuring the air pressure of a car tyre; you cannot measure it without letting some air out! My birds were definitely reacting to being counted. They had all disappeared.
But wait is that a tail?
They kept me waiting a good half an hour. I was considering whether the rules would allow me to start again a bit later, when suddenly they all appeared.
It was difficult to count them, especially as they were quite well camouflaged by the tree branches.
The blackbirds came first and that must have given the signal to the others that the coast was clear.
At the end of the hour most daily visitors had managed to put in an appearance.
I noted the following:
- 1 Robin
- 3 Blackbirds
- 2 Blue tits
- 5 Chaffinches (male and females)
- 1 Coal tit
- 3 Dunnocks
- 2 Goldfinches – is this enough for a ‘charm’ or more of a ‘troubling’?
(but I am cross with these as they are refusing to eat the Niger seed bought especially, preferring instead the sunflower seeds)
- 1 Greenfinch
- 1 House sparrow
- 2 Woodpigeons
- 1 Grey squirrel
The only birds I didn’t see today were the big black crows,the sweet Collared Doves and the noisy Magpies.
I tried to take some photographs of these birds after the hour was up, but that Observer affect seemed to be taking place again. The garden was deserted. . . . .