Walking through my village on Friday afternoon I disturbed a brawl outside The Green Man pub; a vicious, unrelenting fight…between two hungry blackbirds.
They were scuffling along the ground through the snow, wings flapping, both with the same piece of food clamped in their beaks and both refusing to let go. It was brutal, but such is the desperation of our seemingly friendly little garden birds when the weather is below freezing and snow is limiting their feeding opportunities.
These are the times when putting out extra food in our gardens can make all the difference. My feeder has never been as popular, there are birds on it every few seconds and, apart from the pleasure it gives me to watch them, I know it’s really helping them make it through the harsh weather.
So, this weekend (26/27 January) when I sit down to do the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch, I feel like I might be in for a bumper year. We’ve taken lots of calls at the RSPB this week from people seeing fieldfares. Not a regular garden visitor, fieldfares are being driven to gardens in search of food, so if the cold weather continues we could see them make an appearance in people’s Birdwatch submissions.
It’s easy to join in; just spend one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in your garden or local park at any one time, then submit the results to www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch You’ll be among around 600,000 people that join in with the World’s biggest wildlife survey, so you’ll be in good company.
If an hour isn’t enough bird action for you then visit BBC Nature to watch live images from feeder cameras at the RSPB’s Lodge nature reserve from dawn until dusk on Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, and join in the live webchat with RSPB and BBC Nature experts.
Follow on Twitter @natures_voice and include the hashtag #Birdwatch to join the conversation.