Volunteer quotes and stories

 
Redstart, by John Harding

Redstart is a good species in any garden, let alone London.

Nuthatch, by Chris Bradley

Nuthatches are stil exciting for many gardens in Scotland.

Long-tailed Tit, by Jill Pakenham

Despite being quite common, Long-tailed Tits still cheer up a garden.

To help us celebrate our 20th anniversary in 2015, we asked some of our long-term volunteers to let us know what they enjoyed most about Garden BirdWatch. Here's what some of them said:

Nigel Harris, London: We have been delighted at the range of birds and other wildlife seen in a 'normal' (if bird-friendly) garden within a London postcode area. Seven species of warbler is good for some bird reserves, let alone a garden! Redstart, Brambling and Redpoll are also all good to see in the London area - and why on earth Mallards would want to sit on our shed roof we have no idea. We have also been amazed at the way in which large systematic changes have occurred in a relatively small time-frame e.g. we started off with 40+ House Sparrows at once and now see only a few per year, whilst we now have Coal Tits every week, even though we had lived here for three years before we'd even seen one at all.

Tony Gelston, Tyne & Wear: All the time we have lived here we have observed with interest the changing pattern of bird visitors to our garden. In the early years we had large numbers of House Sparrows and Starlings as well as Blackbirds, thrushes and small numbers of other species. We remember the first time we saw Collared Doves, then Magpies, and later still Woodpigeons, which are now among our most regular visitors! In the meantime the sparrows, thrushes and Starlings have become few. 
 

Margaret Brown, Kirkcudbridghtshire: Favourite moments include the one occasion when we had a visit from a large group of Waxwings - quite spectacular. I was also thrilled to see the first Nuthatch in the garden a couple of years ago. In the 1980s they were rarely seen in Scotland, but are now well established here, and I see them regularly. I also love to see less frequent visitors such as Goldcrests and Treecreepers, and although I see them often, I love the Great Spotted Woodpeckers and the hoards of Long-tailed Tits which arrive en masse on the bird feeders.

Robin Pepper, East Sussex: I have lived at my present address for 50 years and have had garden bird feeders for most of them. I get an immense amount of pleasure from just watching the more common species but probably the best do not even use the feeders. Bullfinches are fairly regular, they bred here once, and Goldcrests are quite often seen in an old Christmas tree which, for a few years, was used as a day-time roost by a Tawny Owl. 

Mike Lambert, Surrey: Standout was when a Nightjar decided to settle along the aluminium crossbar of my son’s football goal. It was obviously convinced I couldn’t see it and hung around for a couple of days before moving on.

House Sparrow, by John Harding

While the rarities are exciting, it is also fascinating to see how common species
populations have changed.

Hawfinch, by John Robinson

It's a treat to see Hawfinches in the wider countryside, let alone your garden!

 

Robin Pepper, East Sussex: I have lived at my present address for 50 years and have had garden bird feeders for most of them. I get an immense amount of pleasure from just watching the more common species but probably the best do not even use the feeders. Bullfinches are fairly regular, they bred here once, and Goldcrests are quite often seen in an old Christmas tree which, for a few years, was used as a day-time roost by a Tawny Owl. 

 

Carl Powell, Suffolk: I have always counted birds in my garden in some way or another, long before GBW. I get a great deal of enjoyment watching my garden birds and over the last few years it has become more important to both me and my wife since she now has limited mobility.  I am not sure that even the BTO realised just how much information and data would be collected over the years and what an important research tool GBW has become.  Long may it continue to be so.

Keith Jones, Monmouthshire: As soon as I read about Garden Birdwatch I realised that it was exactly what I'd been waiting for - a chance for my birdwatching to be of use. There have been a number of highlights over the last 20 years but the greatest must be when a bird I'd never seen before, although I'd looked for it in a number of woods, turned up in my garden, a Hawfinch. A possible disappointment was coming home one day and finding that all the berries on a large cotoneaster had vanished, a couple of Blackbirds and a Blackcap had previously taken a few only of the berries, but had had very little impact. The next day my neighbour called me into his garden to see the birds that were stripping all the pink berries of his rowan tree - Waxwings! Fantastic birds, the first time I'd ever seen them, but had I missed them stripping the berries in my garden? Possibly, probably, but I'll never know for sure.

We have also been sent in a wonderful comparison by Lindsay Cambpell who started Garden BirdWatch in Hertford but then moved to the Orkney Islands. You can read her story here (PDF, 980.85 KB).