This post isn't about Saturday night in the town centre! This article is contributed by Sarah Oxley, who thinks everyone should come and live in the city of Leeds because it has great birdlife and lots of green space, and also because she's an estate agent so it's in her professional interest. It's a lovely insight into one person's experience of watching birds in the garden.
Birds of Leeds
It was the 34th annual Big Garden Birdwatch of the RSPB this year, and while the results are being counted, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the sightings of my local area and invite everyone to share what they spotted in their gardens.
I live in Leeds, and while I don’t have a garden, my grandparents do and have been putting out food for the birds for a very long time (I think it might be coming up to forty years now). They often have a lot of activity in the garden, and so every year we complete the Big Garden Birdwatch.
This year we spotted the following:
Robins are frequent visitors of the garden, which always pleases me, as they are my favourite bird. This year we sighted two in the garden at the same time, which was quite a surprise since Robins are territorial and it’s the wrong time of year for pairs to share territory.
A small flock (about 5 I think) visited the garden. House Sparrows were quite widespread in urban and suburban areas in the early 90s, but have been in decline. The RSPB reports that London is especially affected by this decline. Leeds seems to still have a few sparrows about.
Long Tailed Tit
In the past the main tit species in the garden were Blue Tits with the occasional Great and Coal Tit thrown in, but last year and this year in particular there have been Long Tailed Tits visiting. They often come around the same time of the day (mid-morning), so we tried to make sure our bird watching hour was set for when they were due.
Coal Tits often come into the garden in groups with the Long Tailed Tits, but unlike the Long Tailed Tits who seem more interested in the bird seeds, the Coal Tits grab a peanut, fly off and then come back for another.
Another big fan of the peanut dispenser in the garden is a Nuthatch. This one is an unusual sight, as Nuthatches generally prefer mature woods or parklands. While my grandparents live in a more rural area of Leeds, it can’t be described as parkland or mature wood. There is a park nearby, so the Nuthatch must travel quite a way for his food. Also, we’ve only seen one at a time in the garden.
A flock of starlings flew in for a good five minutes before they were off again. This flock appears in the garden every day, usually around the same time and never stays for long. Again, this is a different sight, as Starlings are generally more widespread in the south of England.
A pair of Collared Doves came to the garden, which was nice to see as Collared Doves have been suffering from low numbers, as according to the RSPB, but are now thriving in the UK.
Probably Britain's most sighted bird, Blackbirds have been consistent visitors to the garden, and the temptation of raisins brought Mr and Mrs Blackbird into the garden once again.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Another visitor, who must travel from the local park, as the area doesn’t have enough woodland for it, is the Great Spotted Woodpecker. This woodpecker comes for the peanuts, as well the bird seed slab as it can comfortably hang on the cage and peck away without disturbance.
I found taking the time to actually identify which birds come into the garden quite enlightening, as it shows just how much wildlife activity is about, if you take the time to look.
As a city Leeds seems to have quite a lot of different wildlife about. This is likely due to its proximity to the Yorkshire Dales, its wide greenbelt, and many parks. It does have more green space per child than any other city in the UK, according to The Children’s Society’s 2008 survey.
Did you spot similar or very different birds in your garden during the Big Garden Birdwatch?
It would be great to compare North and South wildlife activity, so leave your list in the comment section below.
This article was written by Sarah Oxley on behalf of LS1, providers of flats in Leeds and the Yorkshire area. Sarah has been living in Leeds for two years, and highly recommends you come have a look at the city.