Unusual records

In total, a staggering 178 species have been recorded during the course of the GBFS. Around 40 of these are what we would consider to be regular garden visitors; around 60 infrequent garden visitors; and the remaining 78 species garden rarities.

Hawfinch by Edmund Fellowes

Hawfinches are rare, stunning GBFS visitors

Rare garden passerines

Species that are not well known for their use of gardens have cropped up several times during the course of the GBFS. Such garden rarities include Rock Pipit, Hawfinch, Raven, Twite, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting and Chough. Even a few summer visitors have made an appearance including Swallow, House Martin, Pied Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear, Ring Ouzel, Whinchat, Tree Pipit, Lesser Whitethroat and Wood Warbler.

Red Kite by Jill Pakenham

Are Red Kites 'garden birds'?

Raptors

A number of raptors that are uncommon in gardens have been seen by GBFS participants with the most striking reports being of Hen Harrier, Goshawk and Short-eared Owl. Thanks to successful reintroduction programmes, Red Kites have made a comeback during the course of the GBFS and in some parts of the country (e.g. the Chilterns) make regular forays into gardens to feed from scraps provided by householders.

Little Egret by Al Downie

Little Egret was a GBFS 'first' in 2009/10

Wetland birds

GBFS participants with large ponds can attract a surprising number of waterfowl, with garden rarities including Mandarin, Shelduck, Whooper Swan, Little Grebe, Greylag Goose, Wigeon, Goosander, Cormorant and Coot. Wading birds can also come into gardens to use food or water provided by householders. This often occurs during extreme winter weather with Snipe and Woodcock two of the more regular visitors. Other wading birds that have been recorded in the GBFS include Common and Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Lapwing, Curlew, Jack Snipe, Turnstone and Oystercatcher. Grey Herons are sometimes reported by GBFS participants and in the cold winter of 2009/10 Little Egret was reported for the first time.

Wryneck by Lawrence Baxter

Wryneck - a rare garden vagrant

Rare vagrants and aviary escapes

Each autumn and winter brings a number of rare vagrant birds to our shores and some of these individuals come into our gardens. Amongst the GBFS list are Serin, Desert Finch, Common Rosefinch, Richard's Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, Rose-coloured Starling, Wryneck, Yellow-browed Warbler and Yellow-legged Gull. A number of aviary escapes find an easy meal in GBFS gardens. These species, which are often colourful additions to a winter bird table, include Canary, Cockatiel, Zebra Finch, Java Sparrow, Red-billed Quelea, White-cheeked Bulbul, Grey Singing Finch, Pekin Robin.