Big Garden Birdwatch results reveal bumper year for coal tits and long-tailed tits in Wales’ gardens
Just under 24,000 in Wales took part in 2018 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch counting a fantastic 431,747 birds – witnessing some exciting and interesting changes among our most popular birds.
Despite the wet weather which welcomed this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, it failed to deter the birds from our gardens and greenspaces as participators spotted some common and not so common suspects. The house sparrow remained the most frequently spotted garden bird in Wales having been spotted 6.1 times per garden on average, with the blue tit overtaking the starling into second place.
Once again this year, the most common visitors to our gardens were blackbirds and robins who were spotted in just under 90% of gardens in Wales. The long-tailed tit (+26.4%) and coal tit (+20.4%) saw an increase in their sightings.
Other good news in Wales’ gardens is an increase in the sighting of siskins (+28.7%) and goldcrests (+14%). However, the survey highlighted a downturn in the recorded sightings of blackbirds (-12.6%) and dunnock (-7.3%) on last year’s figures.
RSPB Cymru Biodiversity Manager, Stephen Bladwell, said: “The Big Garden Birdwatch provides us with valuable data to help build a better picture of how our garden birds are doing. The rise in coal tits and long-tailed tits is thought to be linked to a successful breeding season in 2017, combined with the kind autumn and winter weather in the run up to the Birdwatch. It is likely that the warmer temperatures during the autumn and winter will have made it easier for these birds to find food, which in previous colder winters would have been harder to come by because of frosts and snow.”
The nation’s school children noticed a similar pattern when taking part in the 2018 RSPB Big Schools Birdwatch from 2 January – 23 February. The UK-wide survey of birds in schools saw over 2,700 school children in Wales spend an hour counting the birds they share their school grounds with. The blackbird was the most common playground visitor this time around, jumping from fourth place in 2017 – leaving the starling trailing in second place and carrion crow in third.
Stephen Bladwell concluded: “The link between younger generations and the wildlife on their doorsteps has never been more important. With more birds than ever before Red Listed in Wales, citizen science is playing a crucial part in determining the state our bird populations find themselves in.
“We hope the recent cold weather won’t affect the populations of these amazing little birds and we’ll all see them back in our gardens next year. By doing our bit to help them we hope we can play a role in reversing some declines.”
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