November Northerners

Sometimes I look at my garden and the various feeders that are dotted around the strips of bushes and trees that line the garden edges and think the nearest comparison in human terms is Benidorm!

That’s right, the holiday destination that most of us have done once (even if we no longer admit to it) with its bars and restaurants lined up hoping to pull in the visitors that have escaped the colder climes of the north for winter sun or summer heat.

It’s really not such an odd comparison when you think carefully about many of the garden birds that  spend their time in our gardens. So many of the birds we think of as ‘British’ are actually visitors from further afield. This can be especially true in the winter months.

The best example of this is the Christmas card favourite, the Robin. Robins are a familiar breeding bird in Britain, but many of the Robins that start turning up in gardens at this time of year may well have travelled much further as numbers in Britain are supplemented by arrivals from the continent in Autumn.

Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Chaffinches – all are common British breeders too but large numbers of these species arrive from Scandinavia and Russia during the Autumn and remain to winter, often in our warmer gardens.

They use our gardens as fast food outlets – hoovering up the fat balls, peanuts and sunflower hearts we have laid for them! – as they enjoy a little winter warmth away from their snow-covered breeding grounds. Not sure how the night life compares to Benidorm but the birds keep coming back so we can certainly consider ourselves an Avian tourist hotspot!

I have to share some excitement too, about two sentences back while writing this blog post I took a phone call and stood up to look into the garden. A small brown bird flew across the garden to the our big sycamore, landed on the trunk and then crept higher.

It took a second for this to sink in before loudly exclaiming “That’s a Treecreeper!” to the bemused person on the other end of the phone. Only the second garden record of Treecreeper in 22 years, it hung about long enough for me to grab the camera for a record shot. Garden bird watching is just the best sometimes!


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.