One year of BTO Garden Birdwatch

It's the anniversary of my starting the BTO Garden Birdwatch, logging all the birds in the garden over the course of a year. As well as birds I’ve recorded butterflies, mammals & amphibians. These graphics are off the BTO site, showing the frequency of the most common birds that actually use the garden (pure fly-overs are not counted).

Surprisingly out of the 47 bird species I recorded during the year, only four were seen absolutely every week: Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Goldfinch & House Sparrow. The rest of the top 10 were Robin which only missed one week (reporting rate = 98%), Blackbird with reporting rate of 96%, Collared Dove, Jackdaw and Great Tit all on 92%, then quite a big drop to Wren at 75%. Most of these species disappeared during late Summer / early Autumn, when the species count was at it’s lowest.

At the other end of the scale six birds only showed once: Fieldfare during winter snows, Whitethroat, Siskin & Hawfinch during Spring migration and Grey Wagtail & Lesser Whitethroat also migrants during the late summer.

Butterflies at Greystones Farm

Back at Greystones today for a walk. Despite the windy day there were still some butterflies about in the sheltered spots. Several Commas around the brambles, Small Coppers and also some Speckled Wood butterflies. The meadows are growing back a bit after their July hay harvest haircut, allowing some flowering of Devils Bit Scabious, Silverweed and hawkbit. Four Little Egrets on the nearby gravel pit were a sign of the season.

Butterflies on Lavender

It's colder today and the lavender is coming to an end, but here's a few snaps of butterflies that have been in the garden over the last couple of weeks.  One or two of Common Blue, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown butterflies have been through on a more or less daily basis during early August.  Though there have been plenty of Large and Small Whites, often they've not stopped for the flowers, and I've had Comma and Red Admiral visiting a few times.  Other species which I might have expected, like Small Tortoiseshell, which I remember as being so common when I was a kid, seem very scarce - only seen 2-3 times this year.  And so far I didn't see a single Peacock or Painted Lady in the garden despite it seemingly being a good year for butterflies.  It's thought the decline of some of these butterfly species might be due to a parasitic fly (Sturmia bella) that has spread from the Continent in recent years.  We sent in some counts to Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count - be interested to see the outcome from their UK survey when it comes out.