Waxing lyrical about northwest garden birds

No.:  2010-12-57
December 2010

Latest results from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch survey show that birds are flocking into Cheshire and Merseyside gardens. During the past four weeks householders have seen thousands of birds, including Waxwings which are rare vagrants to our shores.

Waxwing by Ron Marshall
 

Waxwings are unmistakable but scarce
visitors to gardens.

With their punk hairstyle and gaudy plumage, Waxwings are unmistakable but scarce visitors to gardens. During the past four weeks, however, 7% of Cheshire and Merseyside householders who participate in the BTO’s Garden BirdWatch have recorded this striking species, compared with just 2% in the rest of Britain and Ireland. Another colourful species that has cropped up in unusually high number is the Grey Wagtail, occurring in one in ten of the region’s gardens. This species associates closely with freshwater and is an unusual visitor to gardens, but the cold weather appears to have pushed it into our towns and cities.

The most frequently seen species during the past four weeks have been Blackbird, Blue Tit and Robin, forming an omnipresent trio. The resurgence of Robins in gardens during winter is a particularly welcome sight for armchair birdwatchers gearing up for the festive season. Our smallest birds are also being accommodated, with the acrobatic Long-tailed Tit and tiny Goldcrest occupying a quarter more gardens regionally compared with the national average.

The unique garden bird community of Cheshire and Merseyside has come alive and, as the inclement weather continues, the BTO is encouraging more householders to enjoy the birds in their gardens and to record what they see through the BTO Garden BirdWatch. The scheme has run every week since 1995 and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world, with over 350 participants in Cheshire and Merseyside alone.

Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: “Householders in Cheshire and Merseyside can be amazed at the birds that they have in their gardens. During the past four weeks, the region’s gardens have held 54 species including garden rarities such as Grey Heron and Water Rail. Other species have been observed in unusually high numbers including Nuthatch, Blackcap, Bullfinch and Jay.”

He added, “Many people watch birds in their gardens and BTO Garden BirdWatch enables the region’s householders to record what they see and, in the process, make a real scientific contribution. Whether you watch the birds for 10 minutes or 10 hours per week you can still get involved.”

To make your garden count or for a free enquiry pack 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 to Editors

  1. Top 20 garden birds in Cheshire and Merseyside: past four weeks
     
    Top 20
    Cheshire and Merseyside
    % gardens occupied
    Top 20
    Rest of Britain and Ireland
    % gardens occupied
    1
    Blackbird
    100.0
    Blue Tit
    98.0
    2
    Robin
    100.0
    Robin
    97.8
    3
    Blue Tit
    100.0
    Blackbird
    96.9
    4
    Great Tit
    97.2
    Great Tit
    93.8
    5
    Coal Tit
    93.1
    Dunnock
    91.0
    6
    Dunnock
    91.7
    Chaffinch
    87.8
    7
    Woodpigeon
    90.3
    Woodpigeon
    84.7
    8
    Magpie
    88.9
    Coal Tit
    80.3
    9
    Chaffinch
    88.9
    Goldfinch
    74.7
    10
    Goldfinch
    80.6
    Magpie
    73.0
    11
    Collared Dove
    79.2
    Collared Dove
    72.9
    12
    Starling
    66.7
    House Sparrow
    70.9
    13
    House Sparrow
    63.9
    Starling
    67.7
    14
    Long-tailed Tit
    62.5
    Greenfinch
    66.2
    15
    Greenfinch
    61.1
    Wren
    53.3
    16
    Wren
    59.7
    Long-tailed Tit
    49.4
    17
    Nuthatch
    52.8
    Great Spotted Woodpecker
    45.4
    18
    Great Spotted Woodpecker
    45.8
    Carrion Crow
    40.3
    19
    Song Thrush
    43.1
    Jackdaw
    37.9
    20
    Carrion Crow
    43.1
    Song Thrush
    31.7
 
  1. 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.
  2. 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 nationally, with some 350 in Cheshire and Merseyside. 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

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)
Office: 01842 750050 (9am to 5.30pm)
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 2010-12-57

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