Ornithology and wildlife holiday tour leader Simon Ginnaw will be guiding bird watchers on two Dawn Chorus Walks this April in the garden and woodland at Great Comp Garden in Platt near Sevenoaks, a place that has become a veritable sanctuary for rarer garden birds.
A native of Kent, Simon set up private bird classes and small group tours in the south-east to help enthuse people about birds and increase the number of bird watchers.
Simon’s expertise is bird behaviour, he says: “I have always been passionate about our natural world, being fascinated by the Collins Bird Guide when I was aged just 2 years old. I received my first pair of binoculars at the age of 6 and my interests have shaped my life to date.”
The gardeners at Great Comp Garden have kept a watching brief on the bird population at the 7 acre garden near Sevenoaks and it is alive with birdsong and birdlife. Kate Harrison, assistant curator, and volunteer Chris Sutcliffe have been keeping spreadsheets of their sightings which recently included a flock of goldfinches.
Chris says: “Being situated in the heart of the Kent countryside with just the sounds of nature, Great Comp really is very good for birds all year round, for example in February, twenty five different birds were seen including Brambling, Bunting, Greenfinch and Yellowhammer. These are uncommon and for Great Comp to have these feathered visitors is just wonderful.”
The team at Great Comp Garden believe that it’s important to keep surveys in home gardens as a really good way of supporting the work of the leading ornithology charity the RSPB. According to the RSPB, over the last 50 years, 40 million birds have vanished from the UK’s skies.
The bird song at this time of year at Great Comp Garden reaches a peak in late spring and in April the gardening team have previously spotted an impressive 31 different garden birds including:
Blackbirds, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Buzzard, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Feral Pigeon, Fieldfare, Great Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Gold Finch, Gold Crest, Green Woodpecker, Heron,Jay, Kestrel, Longtailed Tit, Magpie, Nuthatch, Pheasant, Robin, Sparrow Hawk, Song Thrush, House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon, Wren and Yellowhammer.
Kate Harrison was particularly pleased to spot a pair of Yellowhammer birds. “It was a real thrill to see a male and female Yellowhammer on the bird feeder at the end of April last year, and to see their repeated return.” The Yellowhammer population fell in the UK by 54 per cent between 1970 and 1998.
Simon will be guiding two walks at Great Comp Garden on Tuesday 19th April (5:20am), and Thursday 28th April (5am). Tickets cost £15 each. Limited availability (16 places per walk).