Early Bird is what I’ve always called the British Trust for Ornithology’s breeding bird survey, which I do twice each summer, leaving home at 5.30 am (see previous blog). So it’s somewhat confusing to find there’s another survey which BTO calls Early Bird but is actually much later and quite different.
I only learnt about this survey on 8 January, when BTO sent an email asking me to take part, preferably on 9 January, but otherwise any day up to and including Sunday 12 Jan. So I did it this morning. I had to get up before sunrise, fill the feeders, then sit at a window and watch. The idea is to record the first ten species which visit the feeders, and the time of each visit. I also had to note any artificial light, as the purpose of the survey is to explore the effect of light and heat pollution on birds feeding on a winter morning.
So I was at my window by 7.20, straining to see the feeders. There was only a tiny bit of artificial light coming from next door. By 7.30 I could see the feeders quite clearly, but the first visitors didn’t arrive until 7.53 when, heralded by a lot of chatter, six jolly long-tailed tits came in a wave. Next was a robin, three collared doves, a goldfinch on the nyjer seed, blue tit, chaffinch, marsh tit, house sparrow and dunnock.
And there I stuck, no new species for ten minutes and I realised I could sit there for hours, hoping in vain for a great-spotted woodpecker, great tit or nuthatch when I ought to be going to work. So I stopped at nine species and sent in the results.
It’s an easy and rewarding survey. Why not give it a go?