Outdoors

A Coordinated Bird Watch

As we were not able to meet for our scheduled Dawn Chorus outing on May 5th due to the coronavirus lockdown, we came up with the idea of inviting members to do an individual but coordinated bird watching session, either in their own gardens, from an open window, or while out on an exercise walk.

A total of 16 members from different parts of the area took up the challenge, three of them even doing a garden list and then also sending in a list of birds from their daily walk, so this gave us records from 19 different locations, as shown in the table below. A further member sent in a list of all the species recorded in their garden during the lockdown period.

People did their recordings either on walks or observing from their garden or window. The weather forecast for Tuesday May 5th was for strong winds, so we gave members the option of doing their survey on the next suitable day. In the event, we had 12 responses from the Tuesday, 4 from the Wednesday, 2 from the Thursday and one from the Friday. Apart from one of the walks which was a follow-on to a garden survey, the remaining survey periods started between 5.00am and 8.00am. One member commented that they were interested to re-discover another 5 o’clock in the day!

When all the lists were collated, between us we had recorded an amazing 45 species of bird! This reflects the variety of habitats found within the Oldham area, from urban gardens to rivers valleys, reservoirs, moorland and small areas of woodland.

The most widespread species, recorded from 16 of our 19 locations, was the blackbird – much in evidence in May either singing or collecting food for their chicks. Blue tits, robins, wood pigeons, wrens and magpies were also widespread. The table at the end of this article lists all the species, in order of frequency.

As we did our bird-watching at different times and on different days, the results are not comparable between locations. However, they do give a picture of the variety of the bird life across our area.

It is noticeable that there are no raptors in our list. Birds in this group tend not to be active early in the day, and certainly don’t feature in the dawn chorus! However, the list which covered all the birds seen in a garden in Greenacres during the lockdown period did include a sparrow hawk.

Thanks to all members who sent in the data which contributed to this report.

Table: Oldham and District U3A bird watching group coordinated early morning records:

species recorded, in order of frequency

Species

Number of locations

(out of 19)

Species

Number of locations

(out of 19)

Blackbird 16 Moorhen 4
Blue tit 15 Skylark 3
Robin 14 Willow warbler 3
Wood pigeon 13 Grey wagtail 3
Wren 12 Collared dove 3
Magpie 11 Blackcap 2
Great tit 9 Swallow 2
Jackdaw 8 Curlew 2
Carrion crow 8 Heron 2
Coal tit 7 Chiffchaff 2
Dunnock 6 House martin 1
Starling 6 Lapwing 1
Song thrush 5 Whitethroat 1
Chaffinch 5 Linnet 1
Greenfinch 5 Jay 1
Goldfinch 5 Garden warbler 1
Canada goose 5 Pied wagtail 1
Feral pigeon 5 Dipper 1
House sparrow 4 Goldcrest 1
Pheasant 4 Gull species 1
Nuthatch 4 Reed bunting 1
Long tailed tit 4 Great spotted woodpecker 1
Mallard 4