29 May 2024

  • Hobbies

Dawn W’s Garden birdwatch journey

My birdwatching story started almost ten years ago. I’d never really paid much attention to birds and must say, never really even noticed them. Fast forward to today and I see them everywhere, my trained eyes (and ears) spot them and identify them before most people have even noticed them fly past or rest on a branch in the vicinity.

I first ‘noticed’ birds when I moved house, the lady who lived there before us used to feed the birds and she left some feeders out for the birds for when we moved in.

From the very first day the birds were hard to ignore in our new garden, they were flying about all over, I’m sure that they sung louder the emptier the feeders got, they wanted feeding!!! There were so many, it was clear that they had been well fed in this garden previously.

I saw and heard so many different birds, but found I’d never really ‘seen’ them before. So many different shapes and sizes and so colourful, I had no idea what species they were and this is where my journey began. I visited my local RSPB site (where I joined up and eventually started volunteering), here I picked up a whole host of useful colourful guides to help me ID birds. I also bought an app on my phone – Collins Bird Guide (I could not live without this).

I invested in some binoculars and regularly viewed the birds in my garden and at RSPB sites, Yorkshire Wildlife sites and in local parks. I met a lady at one site who said it is a good idea to keep a list, so I started to and have not stopped since. I now have years’ worth of lists from reserves all over the country and I have a life list too. It’s been getting harder to find ‘new’ birds, so I went on a birdwatching trip to Scotland, here we saw 121 species of birds in just one week, it was the best holiday of my life.

I’ve found a few other useful apps along the way. I use eBird to keep my bird lists and Merlin Bird ID to help me identify bird song and any pictures I’ve taken of birds I wasn’t able to identify.

I’ve also signed up to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) and submit weekly garden birdwatch results to them for analysis.

Birdwatching is now my main hobby and the thing that really helps me relax and promotes a good sense of wellbeing.

The RSPB Garden Birdwatch is really important for our household, we ensure well in advance that we’ve got sunflower hearts, fat balls, peanuts and plenty of crystal-clear birdbaths available for the birds to enjoy.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken over the years:

By Dawn Webb

@sheffieldmutual

Chief Commercial Officer

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