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Ayrshire, Scotland


 

Article: A Year in The Garden

 

Since 1986, 43 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 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 it's 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.... which I might have swapped for this garden tick, given the choice. All 43 species 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. The 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

 Sparrowhawk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Black-headed Gull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Common Gull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Lesser Black-backed Gull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Herring Gull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Feral Rock Dove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Wood Pigeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Collared Dove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Tawny Owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Swift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Swallow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 House Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Pied Wagtail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Grey Wagtail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Starling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rose-coloured Starling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Magpie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Jackdaw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Rook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Carrion Crow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Waxwing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Wren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Dunnock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Blackcap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Willow Warbler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Chiffchaff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Goldcrest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Robin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Blackbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Song Thrush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Mistle Thrush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Redwing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Long-tailed Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Blue Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Great Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Coal Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 House Sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Brambling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Siskin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 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.

 

*eventually recorded in December 2008.

 


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