Herefordshire and Wye Valley garden birds: spectacular winter results

No.:  2011-02
January 2011

Latest results from the year-round British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch have revealed a busy winter for local garden birdwatchers. Householders have been treated to the familiar Blue Tit, the sleek Raven, and many other exciting birds in huge numbers.

Robin in snow by Jill Pakenham
 

Amidst the snow and ice this winter thousands
of birds poured into the region's gardens.

Amidst the snow and ice this winter, thousands of birds poured into the region’s gardens, snaffling up generous offerings provided by householders. Since November 2010, garden favourites such as Robins, Great Tits and Blue Tits have been unusually abundant (see graph below), the latter more than twice as common locally compared with the rest of Britain and Ireland.

The Raven – an elegant, shadowy figure against the brilliant white snow – has glided into 6% of gardens in Herefordshire and the Wye Valley this winter compared with only 1% nationally. Other striking species have also enthralled local armchair birdwatchers, including the dazzling Yellowhammer and the delicate Brambling, the latter occupying over a third of plots.

A speciality of the region, the diminutive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, also came in from the cold and was joined by its much larger cousin the Great Spotted Woodpecker whose numbers soared. The latter is a charismatic and dynamic species that is becoming increasingly common in gardens, with three quarters of local residents visited by this popular bird this winter.

Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: “The surge of birds into local gardens suggests that many individuals were struggling for food, with winter favourites such as Fieldfare and even Pheasants gobbling up garden offerings with enthusiasm. For stranded householders, these visitors provided much entertainment and welcome, colourful companionship this winter.”

He added: “BTO Garden BirdWatch has run every week since 1995 and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world, with some 200 participants in Herefordshire and the Wye Valley alone. Without their help we would not know what is happening with the region’s garden birds, so if you enjoy gazing at birds in your garden too please contact us to join this simple and important survey.”

For information about BTO Garden BirdWatch and a free BTO guide on feeding garden birds, please telephone 01842 750050 and ask for the Garden BirdWatch team, email gbw [at] bto.org or write to GBW, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.

Notes for editors

  1. Average number of Robins, Great Tits and Blue Tits in individual gardens per week from Nov 2010–Jan 2011. H & WV = Herefordshire and Wye Valley gardens; National = rest of British and Irish gardens.
 
  1. The BTO Garden BirdWatch is the only nationwide survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year, providing important information on how birds use gardens, and how this use changes over time. Currently, some 15,000 people take part in the project with around 200 participants in Herefordshire and the Wye Valley alone. The project is funded by participants’ contributions and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world. For more information see www.bto.org/gbw.
  2. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research organisation. Over thirty thousand birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Norfolk and Stirling, who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO’s investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.

Contact information 

Tim Harrison (BTO Garden BirdWatch Development Officer)
Office: 01842 750050 (9am to 5.30pm)
Email: gbw [at] bto.org

Paul Stancliffe (BTO Press Officer)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at] bto.org

Images are available for use alongside this News Release
Please contact images [at] bto.org quoting reference 2011-02

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050