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Ayrshire, Scotland


 

Article: A Year in The Garden

 

Since 1986, 45 species of birds have been recorded within my parents' suburban garden in Kilmarnock (Ayrshire, Scotland). Since I left in 2000, very little recording has been carried out. Unfortunately I never saw the 41st (which of course had to be the highlight!): a Rose-coloured Starling (Sturnus roseus) found by my dad lingered for only a few minutes on the morning of 7 September 2002. It was first sighted on the garage roof with a gang of its vulgar relatives and then dropped down on to the patio below for some food scraps before flying off. My parents were the only observers as I was thousands of miles away in Peru watching Andean Cock-of-the Rock (Rupicola peruvianus) that day. All 45 species have occurred within an area encompassing the boundaries of the garden and the airspace up to the level of the highest part of the roof. A further 21 species have been sighted flying over and therefore excluded from the |defined list|.

 

 
One of the reasons a good range of birds was recorded, apart from a reliable source of winter feeding, was probably due the fact that the borders of five rear gardens (including this one) met at a point where a few Sycamores, a Birch and a Larch grew to create, in effect, a miniature nature reserve. Passing birds would often stop and rest on the tree tops. Large trees are fairly scarce in the area since the gardens are small and less mature than older, more established areas of the town. However, over the years various neighbours had the bright idea of removing these wildlife-rich sources and replacing them with that urban monster known as Leyland Cypress x Cupressocyparis leylandii. As a result our annual box-breeding Blue Tits finally ceased as their much-needed resource of larvae for the chicks eventually disappeared. Our garden has three Rowans trees which have been there a long time but are going nowhere due to the enforced shading and drought created by the rampant hybrid conifers.

 

Confirmed breeding birds have been Blue Tit, Starling, House Sparrow, Blackbird and Dunnock. Within the immediate area in Spring, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Song Thrush and Collared Dove can be seen and heard singing and probably breed. Garden rarities have been Waxwing, Brambling, Redwing, Grey Wagtail and Rose-coloured Starling - all involving just one record each. Some species, such as the Song Thrush, are far less regular now while others, such as the Magpie (from the early 1990s) and Collared Dove (the late 1990s), are increasingly common in the area. Siskin and Coal Tit, in particular, have been very periodic in abundance with no records in some years.


The table below shows the monthly pattern of occurrence of each species over the years.

 

 

 

 SPECIES

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

1

 Sparrowhawk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 Black-headed Gull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 Common Gull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 Lesser Black-backed Gull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 Herring Gull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 Feral Rock Dove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7

 Wood Pigeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

 Collared Dove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

 Tawny Owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

 Swift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 Great Spotted Woodpecker1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 Swallow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

 House Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

 Pied Wagtail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

 Grey Wagtail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16

 Starling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17

 Rose-coloured Starling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

 Magpie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19

 Jackdaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20

 Rook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21

 Carrion Crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22

 Waxwing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23

 Wren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24

 Dunnock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25

 Blackcap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26

 Willow Warbler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

27

 Chiffchaff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28

 Goldcrest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29

 Robin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30

 Blackbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

31

 Song Thrush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32

 Mistle Thrush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

33

 Redwing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

34

 Long-tailed Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35

 Blue Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36

 Great Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37

 Coal Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

38

 House Sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

39

 Chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40

 Brambling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

41

 Greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

42

 Siskin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

43

 Goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

44

 Bullfinch2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

45

 Reed Bunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 23 other fly-overs sighted from the garden have been; Cormorant, Grey Heron, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Mallard, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Common Buzzard, Peregrine, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Snipe, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Fieldfare, and Raven.

 

I often wonder what the next new bird will be. Some relatively common birds have never put in an appearance, e.g. Long-tailed Tit*, and this may be due to the fact that the area is perhaps not so well connected to the major nearby woodland habitats. Given that Nuthatches have colonised Ayrshire over the past 25 years, it hopefully won't be too long before they make an appearance in the garden.

 

1 First ever Great Spotted Woodpecker on 13/12/21 (ADS).

2 First ever Bullfinch on 03/12/23 (ADS).

*eventually recorded in December 2008.

 

 

 

Table of Blue Tit breeding productivity in the garden nest box

 

Year

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

First egg laid

4-May

4-May 

no breeding

3-May

7-May

21-May

Clutch size

8

 8

no breeding 

6

6

9

Hatching date

25-May

 26-May

no breeding

23-May

27-May

12-Jun

No of eggs hatched

7

 8

no breeding

 5

 6

9

Date of fledging

15-Jun

14-Jun

no breeding

10-Jun

13-Jun

30-Jun

No of young fledged

6

7

no breeding

5

3

 9

 

Mean clutch size: 7.4 eggs

Mean hatch size (rate): 7.0 eggs (94.6%)

Mean fledgling size (rate): 6.0 birds (85.7%)

Mean incubation period: 21.0 days

Mean fledging period: 18.6 days

 

 

Blue Tit breeding productivity in the garden nest box 1991-1996  Fraser Simpson  www.fssbirding.org.uk

 

 

 


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   Fraser Simpson    www.fssbirding.org.uk