The RSPB BGBW 4: Doing it in Victoria Park

em and em birds

This is part 4 of a four part special celebrating the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2011.

On Saturday 29th January, Fat balls hung in the thousands, nuts were placed on every ledge, seed trails led to gourmet treats, bird tables were laid with the finest of feasts, something was going on in the garden, people were prepairing for a giant science experiment to help monitor and protect our garden birds (along with a bit of friendly competition). It was the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2011.

Over half a million people took part in the watch and I was one of them, in Victoria Park for Greener Leith with Sound Artist, Emma Quayle. Disover the highs and lows of birdwatching, which birds we spotted, our mystery bird and what really happened mid air at the end of the watch: 


Someone shouted “what are you doing in there?” yes, we looked suspicious in the bushes but it was worth it.

Thanks to everyone who took part with us, for promoting the watch and sharing the bird love.

I enjoyed the build up to the watch almost as much as the watch itself. I’ve never tweeted so much (that’s on twitter) and I espcailly loved it when the Scottish Poetry Library and Lets Get Lyrical started sending bird realted song lyrics to me. As usual the Broughton Spurtle were well ahead, having poetically promoted these very blog posts the day before on twitter with: Twa burds sat oan a barra. Yin wis a spewg, the ither a sparra. But they still count as two: .

Thank you for all the other messages and the lovely puffin photo. Here’s a selection of some of my favourite messages from the weekend:

 sandra crow: I will do birdwatch this weekend – live on hill farm in midlothian, seen a decline in wrens, but surge of bluetits/great tits

 Martin Gladdish: read your profile and thought you might like the best photo I’ve ever taken (Skomer) 

 Let’s Get Lyrical: #GetLyrical for the #rspb #bgbw action today with @ & others. Can think of “Three craws sat upon a wa'” Any better suggestions?

 Joon: I’ll swap you 5 House Sparrows for your Song Thrush.#BGBW

 Scottish Poetry Lib:@LetsGetLyrical @auntyemily ‘Feed the birds/ tuppence a bag’. A heartbreaker/good advice, from ‘Mary Poppins’ #rspb #bgbw

 Broughton Spurtle: Hang on: you saw a dunnock drinking tea on a bench? 

 Anita Sharkey: My count for #bgbw 1 blackboard, 2 blue tits, 1 woodpigeon and 1 Maggie for sorrow. Niece was more impressed with the grey squirrel. Tweet

 Ali George: 3 chickens… #BGBW 

 Broughton Spurtle: BGBW 2–3pm, light drizzle, backgreen, Broughton. Nothing. No tweets. No song. Not a dickie bird. Nada. Deadinburgh? 

 Kim Harding: Blackbird singing but couldn’t see it! My count for #BGBWzero. Might try again tomorrow, if I have time

 greenerleith:There were literally no birds in my garden for the whole hour. Do I still report it?

 James Stout: Story of my life until I was 19, not a bird in sight…

Me: could this be the decline in garden birds everyone’s talking about? 

 Kim Harding: Unlikely, there is usually a diverse population birds out there, just not today, or it could be the sparrow hawk I saw last week

 Kim Harding: grey squirrels are of course another reason for the decline in garden birds, they eat eggs and fledglings

Me: Everyone’s upped the food to gourmet to get the most birds in their garden, maybe they’re all too fat to feed?Good luck tomo (:

 Michael MacLeod: Ooh, that’s a chubby robin. No, ours was worryingly skinny. He was eating the nuts we left on the windowsil.. is that cheating?!

 Kim Harding: I think you maybe right, all my birds have been tempted away…

 Ali George: there are some very small birds in this tree… sparrows maybe?!BGBW 

 Earth Calling: done my  now, not bad, 2 woodpeckers, brambling n blackcap highlights…

 The Nerds Online!: Emily Dodd spares an hour to tweet along with local birds – The Guardian #News > 

 Michael MacLeod: Haha, yeah I just saw the nerds thing now… I’m proud! Better than being plain janes! How was today? I only saw 7 birds :(

My Mum (by text message): We did our birdwatch 2day. Had amazing results, a green wpecker was on lawn,great spot wpecker on fat block, 2 nuthatches (1 was on balcony and other on table) 2 redpoll (never seen them in gdn b4) a jay, as well as the usual tits and finches. We had such a gud time we have decidede 2 do it every wek 4 enjoyment! We had no idea that so many birds visited our garden. Hope u r ok, mum x

Kenny Gunn-Russel (via facebook) : I did too Today One Wren, One Robin, Two Bluetits after putting out a ground bird feeder tray and hanging meal worm tray and Hanging Nyjer h feeder with the hope of attracting Goldfinches 


Read the rest of this series here: 


Read about this series in the Edinburgh Guardian.

Em ‘n’ Em’s reccomened outdoor birdwatching kitlist 

  • thermals
  • flask of tea
  • chocolate
  • whisky
  • assorted bird books
  • binoculars
  • pen
  • phone
  • mircrophone
  • monster munch

Special thanks to Emma Quayle for recording and editing the podcast of and to Michael MacLeod for writing about it in the Edinburgh Guardian. 

Written by Emily Dodd

  • Roger B.

    I have published links to your Big Garden Birdwatch posts on 'UK and Eire Natural History Bloggers', as requested.


  • Emily Dodd

    Thanks Roger (: How did you enjoy the Birdwatch?

  • Broughton Spurtle

    Now that BGBW is over, there are loads of the little beggars in the back green. I suspect temporary absence was either a cunning ploy to get fed, or they've been avin a larf.

  • Milo

    Spotted in Aberdour:

    Blackbird 1
    Blue tit 9
    Chaffinch 6
    Coal tit 1
    Dunnock 1
    Goldfinch 2
    Great tit 3
    House sparrow 10
    Robin 1
    Starling 1
    Woodpigeon 1

  • Emily Dodd

    The Spurtle (Alan),
    A watched garden never birds as they say… (well they say something about a kettle but you get it)
    There's one now having a larf outside my window every night between 1am and 3am. As you know I love the blackbird's song, but not so loud it penetrates my double glazing and my sleep. There's a time and a place. It's only happened since I declared my undying love for birds on this blog. It knows and it's haunting me. Maybe it's the one from Victoria Park, it want to be in another podcast. The words to sing a song of six pence keep drifting through my sleepy head. It's quite unnerving – this bird is becoming slightly Hitchcock-esk.

  • Emily Dodd

    Sounds good, more birds than Victoria Park that's for sure. I'm jealous of your goldfinch sightings – we wanted to see one, love their punky golden quiffs!