Wildlife enthusiasts have been focussed on their gardens during Covid lockdown.

Unless you are lucky enough to see a fox in your plot or unlucky enough to have grey squirrels then avian visitors will have taken centre stage.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch provided a welcome distraction over the final weekend in January. What usually happens at the Brown residence is that I see all sorts of interesting birds in the days leading up to BGB then during the event my garden is deserted as a pub with no beer.

Things seemed to be going well when, three days before the Birdwatch, a pair of blackcaps joined a queue of birds feeding greedily on the berries of my holly bush. These warblers should migrate to Africa but some now elect to stay as British winters turn milder. Blackcaps have been seen only once before in my garden, in 2005, but these two nervously managed to swallow the large berries during at least four visits.

Wild Things: The tales behind Britain's birds

Male Blackcap by Denise OSullivan

Male Blackcap by Denise O'Sullivan

They were tolerated by a blackbird who for several days had defended the bush which woodpigeons often clear of berries by early January. The blackbird was joined by five superb redwings seemingly intent on setting a world speed record for berry consumption. Redwings winter in Britain to escape severe Scandinavian weather. Slightly smaller and slimmer than the similar song thrush, they look as though they have come within range of an artist with bright red flashes along both flanks resembling brush strokes.

A pair of robins appeared in the same bush. They were much more aggressive than any of the other birds, chasing and harrying everything that moved including two blue tits. With all this frenzied activity in a single bush it seemed there would be plenty to report on Big Garden Birdwatch weekend.

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On the Saturday not a single bird visited while wind-driven rain lashed down all day. Sunday was better but just four redwings and a robin turned up. Same old story then.

At least my experience shows you don’t need lots of expensive feeders and bird food to attract birds. If you plant suitable berry-bearing trees and shrubs like holly the birds will come. But maybe not for Big Garden Birdwatch.