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  • Writer's pictureGabbie Joyce

BirdWatch at the Pit

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

The great annual event for those keen on birds is the RSPB Birders Big Garden Birdwatch. Tony Smedley who lives in Necton, very kindly volunteered to undertake his watch at the Marl Pit and this is his report.

With the full UK wide report now published (April 2021), we can see that all the birds Tony clocked back in January, are on the top 10 UK bird list.

Since moving to Necton we have been providing the birds in our garden with the usual sunflower seeds, peanuts and fat-balls. It has been interesting to see not only an increase in bird numbers of a species visiting the garden, but also an increase in the actual species visiting.

At least that was the case up till a couple of years ago. Since then we have noticed some species have stopped coming to the garden. For instance, we no longer see Chaffinches (I believe Chaffinch numbers have fallen nationwide). Siskins and Bramblings no longer visit during the winter which may be because winters have not been so cold and their food is more readily available. Yellow hammers have stopped visiting since we ceased putting food on the ground.

It also seems that of the species that remain, the population in the garden has fallen. Could that be because there is more of their natural food available?

However there has been a couple of plusses. Although it was only once, we did see a solitary female Bullfinch on our feeders. Where there is one, there must be more. But so far we have not seen them. The other plus has been the good old Sparrow. For years we didn't see any sparrows in the garden, let alone on the feeders. Then, a couple of years ago a solitary sparrow came to feed. It must have told its mates because the numbers increased in ones and twos until whole mobs came to feed. They even brought their young to feed. But come the late autumn and they vanish completely, to return again in the spring. During winter they congregate further down the road near the junction with Ketts Hill.

Although the Necton Pit is a natural wild area and not a cultivated garden, I thought I'd use the RSPB's 'Big Garden Birdwatch' as an ideal time to see what birds inhabit the pit area. Could it be that some, if not all, of the bird species we no longer see in our garden live in the pit area?

Before going to the pit I had a particular look in my own garden to use as a comparison. As we had started to see, there were very few birds around. This was also the case in the Necton Pit. Although I could hear birds calling from all around the pit I found it hard to see them. It is a cliché to say so, but this short survey is just a brief snapshot in time. Bird numbers do vary during the day. Then there is the observer effect. Although I did my best to impersonate an oak tree, just my being there would put some birds off.

Here is the list and numbers of the bird species I saw:


Long Tailed Tit...2



robin perched in cotoneaster hedge
Robin, the UK's 6th favourite bird

The RSPB results show the following as the top 10 birds for 2021:

1. House sparrow

2. Blue tit

3. Starling

4. Blackbird

5. Woodpigeon

6. Robin

7. Great tit

8. Goldfinch

9. Magpie

10. Long-tailed tit

Tony plans to repeat the survey over the course of this year, hoping to monitor the mating/nesting season and then the fledgling season. We will keep you updated on this blog and our FaceBook page.

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