The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is always an event I look forward to. Choosing an hour in the day to record all the species that visit your garden is a truly amazing citizen science project, providing incredible data that shows the status of our garden birds throughout the country.
As I have so many cameras in the garden recording species, I review the footage of the day and choose an hour that best represents the species that visit. I was hoping the beautiful bullfinches that have been appearing would make a show or the female blackcap…. but as is always the way on the day, neither appeared! Another notable species missing this year from my garden is the Greenfinch. In previous years, Greenfinches would have been almost guaranteed by they have been notable by their absence this year. Speaking to others via Twitter, this seems to be the case in other parts of the country too. It will be interesting to see how the nation results reflect their status. I can only presume that disease has been a contributory factor, as these finches are prone to Trichomonosis. Trichomonosis is the name given to a disease caused by the protozoan parasite Trichomonas gallinae. It has been recorded in a number of garden bird species and is widely acknowledged to be the causal factor in the rapid decline of the British Greenfinch population that was first noted in late summer 2006.
Trichomonas typically causes disease at the back of the throat and in the gullet. Affected birds show signs of general illness (lethargy, fluffed-up plumage) and may show difficulty in swallowing or laboured breathing. Some individuals may have wet plumage around the bill and drool saliva or regurgitate food that they cannot swallow. In some cases, swelling of the neck may be evident. The disease may progress over several days or even weeks.
The trichomonad parasite is vulnerable to desiccation and cannot survive for long periods outside of the host. Transmission is most likely to be through contaminated food or water, e.g. where a bird with difficulty swallowing regurgitates food that is then eaten by another individual. (Source: BTO)
We can help by keeping our feeders clean, so the parasite has less chance of being spread, but having said that, I have not seen any ill individuals recently and my chaffinches seem fine and they are another species who regularly suffer from this disease.
I set a couple of trail cams up to see what species I could capture and I also took my camera up to the Hub and set a fat bar feeder outside the window, hoping to get some decent shots of some species.
The trail cam footage was a little disappointing, as the squirrel sat on the best positioned one, dislodging it but I did manage to capture some nice shots of some of the more common species in the garden…
The birds performed well on the fat feeder and I was delighted to get the Great Spotted Woodpecker and a small collection of lovely Long tailed tits visited. I tried to create some perches that they would sit on, before they went on the feeder, giving me the chance to get some clean shots. I was pretty pleased with some of the results…
My final count, to be submitted was:
Goldfinch (2) Chaffinch (2) Blue tit (15) Great tit (8) Coal tit (4) Long tailed tit (5) Great Spotted Woodpecker (2) Nuthatch (2) Dunnock (5) Blackbird (5) Robin (4) Wood pigeon (3) Jackdaw (4) Carrion crow (2) Magpie (4) Collared dove (2) Wren (1) Stock dove (2) House sparrow (2)