The Big Garden Birdwatch and the first sowing of 2019

This weekend marks the annual Big Garden Birdwatch from the RSPB. I took part in it for the first time last year – and it was exactly one year ago, so thought I’d give it a go this time to compare findings.

How does the Big Garden Birdwatch work?

The Birdwatch lasts for 1 hour – you pick the hour across the 3 days – and it can take place in a garden or a park (you need to identify the postcode when you submit your results), and you have to count the birds. You record the highest number of each bird that you see at one time rather than every bird you see during the hour, as this helps to reduce counting of one busy bird who visits the garden 5-6+ times.

When the hour is up, you add your high score online or return your form to the RSPB via the mail. They then crunch this data to monitor the UK garden bird numbers, their locations, and usually report back on population trends later in the year.

In 2018 I saw:

So that’s 23 birds in the garden (i’m not counting the fly-by ones).

This year’s birdwatch hour

This weekend, it was fairly windy, so I wasn’t expecting to see quite as many, as I guessed that some birds would prefer not to fly against the wind, and some may be spooked by the noise and movement of things affected by it.

Here’s what I saw this morning (27/01/19):

  • 12 House Sparrows
  • 5 Starlings
  • 4 Blue Tits
  • 2 Great Tits
  • 1 Robin

Whilst the Sparrows remain the winner (one more than exactly one year ago), and the Robin remains boss of the garden, the numbers are just 1 bird up in total despite lacking the wood-pigeons and the blackbirds.

My garden has continued to evolve since last year, so the birds have some plants to hide in or use as close-range cover when they visit me. Hopefully the numbers will continue to increase for 2020.

The first sowing of 2019

The early Broad Beans for 2019 went into the ground late last year, although I’ve not seen anything emerge yet (is that ‘normal’?), but these are the first seeds to be sown this year.

I’ve started with Goji Berries ‘Lycium Barbarum’ which are part of the James Wong range with Suttons Seeds. I really like his range, and I saw these as something very different for me to try.

Goji Berries 'Lycium Barbarum' seeds in a pot of compost.
Sowing the Goji Berries ‘Lycium Barbarum’ from the James Wong range at Suttons Seeds.

Apparently they don’t need much effort, but you do need to nurture them for about 18 months before they come to fruit. I’ve never even tried a goji berry, but apparently it’s very good for you.

Whilst in the shed sowing these, I also noticed three Aquilegia ‘McKana Giants’ seedlings poking out of an old pot of compost, so i’ve transplanted those into separate pots to grow on. Despite no water for such a long time, they’ve somehow survived.

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Did you take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this year? How did it compare to last year? Did you have anything unusual land in the garden? Have you sown anything this year yet?

Thanks for reading, and as ever, happy gardening,


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