When Trinity’s Deputy Head Gardener Karen Wells sat on a bench in the College gardens to take part in the RSBP Big Garden Birdwatch this year she was expecting the usual garden birds.
Indeed the just reported top sightings across the UK this year were house sparrow, blue tit and starling.
Karen recalls the 28 January was sunny, 8 degrees centigrade with a south-westerly wind.
Time passed. I could hear birdsong from high in the surrounding treetops, but not a single bird was to be seen. I began to feel deflated.
Then at last a sighting in a leafless tree – my heart raced, hoping it was a jay. Out with the borrowed binoculars, twizzling with the focus – not a jay, not a pigeon – but a sparrowhawk eating lunch!
Colleague Tony Harte, who had earlier spotted a black cap in Duff’s Garden, identified the sparrowhawk as a male. As it flew eastward Karen said:
The other feathered garden occupants breathed a sigh of relief, relaxed – movement returned, foliage stirred, song was sung – cues I followed with the borrowed binoculars. A wren, a blackbird, a robin, a blue tit – many sightings in the last 20 minutes of the survey.
Those taking part in annual Big Garden Birdwatch set aside an hour to record those birds that land (not fly overhead) and report the highest number of each species seen at any one time within an hour.
The Trinity birdwatch team were stationed across the 36-acre of gardens at the College, with Harriet Bradnock in Duff’s Garden, Sarah Squires and Charo Costa Canovas in Burrell’s Field, Leah Collins in the Bowling Green and Karen Wells in the Fellows’ Garden. The most numerous species spotted were blue tits, along with great tits and robins.
The gardeners enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the community of birds, said Harriet.
The Big Garden Birdwatch was a great opportunity to really take in the wide variety of birds and wildlife in the gardens, and to enjoy the gardens themselves. We were pleased to find quite a number of species and individual birds during the survey.
Leah added: ‘A lovely experience to sit in the gardens, be still, enjoy the plants and the beautiful buildings that we share with the wildlife.’