For a weekend every January, the RSPB invites wildlife-lovers across the UK to count birds and other wildlife as part of the long-running ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’. This weekend, we’ve been taking stock of Cromarty’s birdlife and here, we give a taste of just what the town has to offer.
Big Garden Birdwatch is the UK’s biggest ever ‘citizen science’ project and yields important information on the abundance of some of our familiar, best-loved species and also our rarer ones. It’s been going for 38 years and last year around half a million people took part.
Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, you can choose a park or public space near you and count the species that you see. (Just take a note of the postcode so you can log your findings accurately in the website: www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch)
In one large Cromarty garden where the owners have been feeding the birds regularly all winter, the seed and suet ball feeders attracted a profusion of garden birds this weekend: we counted blackbirds, coal tits, chaffinches, great tits, house sparrows, dunnocks, and Scotland’s favourite bird, the robin, during our hour-long watch. Our tally swelled with the arrival of eight blue tits in a small flock — although we may have lost count! — and we spotted wood pigeons on the gables and chimney pots.
That makes for a fine list for submission to the RSPB — but we’re following the rules and only counting the birds that alit in our garden during the hour. We’ve spotted other familiar avian visitors around Cromarty this weekend and wonder if any readers will add them to their birdwatch list? In the woods above Cromarty, we saw flocks of long-tailed tits; on the fields were numerous oystercatchers and a large flock of curlew. There were jackdaws and song thrushes hopping along Shore Street. The shore itself was home to usual lone herons, herring gulls, black-backed gulls and wrens bobbing among the rocks; let’s hope you also catch the elegant but elusive red-breasted mergansers we saw gliding over the Firth.
Even when the Big Garden Birdwatch is over, Cromarty is a great destination for wildlife so do keep it on your list to visit throughout the year!
Text: Mairi Dupar
Photo of long-tailed tit: Tony Sutton