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Published 28th Mar 2018

rsbp big garden birdwatch results are announced

The latest results from the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch have revealed a golden year for the long-tailed tit along with a number of other small birds after a surge in sightings in gardens across the Tees Valley.

Now in its 39th year, the Birdwatch is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their garden, helping the RSPB build up a picture of how they are doing. This year, more than 450,000 people across the country, including almost 4,000 in the Tees Valley took part.

The event held over the last weekend in January revealed an increase in sightings of smaller birds, such as long-tailed tits and coal tits that can usually be seen visiting gardens and outside spaces in flocks. These small birds are thought to have benefited from the mild January weather as long-tailed tit sightings for the Tees Valley were up (+18%), and coal tits (+6%) on 2017’s figures for the county.

The influx of these species to our gardens is thought to be linked to the favourable conditions during their successful breeding season in 2017. This, combined with the kind autumn and early winter weather in the run up to the Birdwatch in January, will have contributed to the rise in sightings.

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “Our garden birds are a part of our everyday life, whether it’s the robin perched on the garden fence or the flock of starlings you see on your way to work. To have hundreds of thousands of people spend an hour watching the wildlife in their garden isn’t only great to see, but it also helps us build up a picture of how our garden birds are doing, which is really helpful.

“Last summer was a really good year for many breeding birds with warm weather creating great conditions for many smaller birds to raise their young to adulthood. The rise in sightings of goldfinches, long-tailed tits and coal tits, along with chaffinches and greenfinches nationally, goes to show that in the absence of cold weather they can survive the winter months in good numbers. Looking at the results it is likely that across the UK this is what people saw in their garden.”

The survey also highlighted a dip in the number of recorded sightings of blackbirds (-17%), robins (-15%) and wrens (-2%) on last year’s figures for the Tees Valley. Dr Hayhow explained: “We all will have noticed that the weather earlier in the winter was slightly warmer than we’re used to, and our garden birds have felt this too. It’s usual for there to be more food available in the wider countryside during a mild winter meaning birds are less reliant on the treats we put out on the garden feeders. However, unlike the finches and tits, robins and wrens did not have a good breeding season in 2017 and data from other surveys indicate that their numbers may be down overall this year.”

The house sparrow was at the top of the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings as the most commonly seen garden bird with an average of almost five per garden recorded in the Tees Valley throughout the weekend. Starling was in second spot, with the blackbird rounding off the top three.

Throughout the first half of the spring term the nation’s school children took part in the RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch. The survey of birds in school grounds saw almost 430 school children in the Tees Valley spend an hour in nature counting the birds. The carrion crow was top of the Big Schools Birdwatch rankings with one being spotted in over 90% of schools in the county.

For a full round up of all the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results and to see which birds were visiting gardens where you live, visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

Photo credit: Nigel Blake (rspb-images.com)



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