New Year in the Garden

Happy New Year to everyone reading, hopefully 2019 will bring some brilliant birds to your garden!

New Year is a time of renewal and it’s a great time to think about your garden birdwatching. If you’re anything like me I don’t get to spend anywhere near as much time as I would like pottering about watching and listening to my garden birdlife and the other nature around the garden. If this is you’re first time reading this diary and don’t feed your garden birds the start of the year is an opportunity to start an activity that millions of us derive a huge amount of pleasure from.

During the cold months of January and February; garden birds struggle to survive as natural foods sources have now become scarce, by having well-stocked bird feeders can be a real lifesaver. Recent weather reports; warn that Britain will face a repeat of last year’s so-called Beast from the East, with weather charts predicting that snow may engulf much of the nation throughout January.

Wood Pigeon

Getting started couldn’t be easier, have a quick glance around the GardenBird website, pick a feeder and some food that will fit and give it a go. Personally I would suggest a fatball feeder or sunflower hearts. Either of these will attract garden birds fairly quickly. You can then use the identification guides and help on the website to learn what species your birds are and more about them.

For many established garden birders January means starting a new garden list, many keep a list of the birds visiting our gardens each year so we can look back and compare with previous years. For others the only time they might write such a list is during the Big Garden Birdwatch towards the end of this month (26-28 January). If you are a regular observer it’s even worth downloading the BTO Birdtrack App and putting in a weekly garden list, this is a great way of making your garden bird watching count towards national science too.

2019 started quietly in my corner of Northumberland, dozing Wood Pigeons and a few Blackbirds were all I noted on the occasional glance out of the window over New Years Day. A large pile of black feathers in the centre of the garden this morning evidenced a successful kill by one of the local Sparrowhawks. Long gone it was left to one of the resident Magpies to pick over what was left in the hope of a meal, nothing goes to waste in nature. I fully expect one or two of the feathers if they remain in hidden corners of the garden may end lining local nests in the Spring.


Our Garden Birder’s Diary is written by Northumberland-based birder Alan Tilmouth who has been birdwatching for over 30 years and writing about birds in various guises for the last decade. A keen garden birdwatcher, he also manages to unearth the odd rare bird on his travels. You can find Alan on Twitter and his Facebook blog.