Since July 2004, I have been keeping a record of the birds seen in our garden in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. To date, I have recorded 62 species, the most unusual being a laughing kookaburra which my wife spotted sitting in the tree above our pond. She managed to grab a quick shot of it (below), and it was seen around the village for around 12 months.
Keeping the record often raises more questions that it answers. For example, for the past 6 years, we have had regular visits from a pair of mallards. They usually turn up in late February/early March and hang around the garden until June/July when they leave until the next year. Where do they go? We presume they have a nest nearby while they are with us because the female is often absent for long periods and returns very hungry. The last time we saw a willow tit was in August 2007 and song thrushes are much rarer now than they used to be. It April 2008, we had our first family of starlings since we moved into the house in 2002. In the past 4 years, we have seen only two.
Common Buzzards suddenly made an appearance in March 2012, not in the garden, but over the garden. Jays are becoming more numerous and less timid. In August this year, we had five together. For the past 8 years, we have had resident pheasants, up to twelve at any one time. Tawny owls are regular visitors and can be seen sitting in the trees and flying over the house. Yellowhammers, normally a bird of the open countryside and on the red list due to their declining numbers, are here most days.
Having so many feathered visitors can make you a little blasé. I have friends who have never seen a woodpecker, yet we have them here every day and their appearance has become the norm. We need to keep reminding ourselves that it is a privilege to see so many varieties of birds that provide a constant display and loads of photographic opportunities.