Surrey's Big Garden Birdwatch results published

Martin Jensen

Thursday 31 March 2016

In excess of half-a-million people joined in the world's largest garden wildlife survey turning their eyes to the garden to watch and count over eight million birds during the 37th RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, witnessing some exciting and interesting changes among our most popular garden birds.

The tiny long-tailed tit has flown into Surrey's Big Garden Birdwatch top 10, after the average number seen visiting the county's gardens increased 54% compared with last year. The highly sociable species is likely to have benefitted from the mild months leading up to January's Birdwatch, making an appearance in more than a quarter of Surrey's surveyed gardens.

RSPB experts are linking the increase in sightings of long-tailed tits, as well as other smaller gardens birds such as goldfinch and great tit, to the mild weather in the months leading up to the 2016 Birdwatch. Small, insect-eating birds like long- tailed tits are particularly susceptible to the cold as the food they rely on is hard to come by in frosts and snow, so milder conditions are likely to have contributed to a higher survival rate.

Dr Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: "The weather can have varied effects on different groups of birds in terms of behaviour and habitats used. The increase in long-tailed tit sightings, along with other smaller garden birds, just goes to show that in the absence of very cold weather these species can survive the winter months in much great numbers."

During periods of colder temperatures birds struggle to find food in the wider countryside so become more reliant on garden feeders. Long-tailed tits, and other smaller birds, have adapted to feeding on seeds and peanuts at bird tables or from hanging feeders. In 2010, long tailed tits were in eleventh place in the league table of Surrey's most common garden birds, but this is the first year since then that they've broken through into the top ten.

Dr Hayhow added: "The increase in numbers of sightings of these smaller garden birds highlights the importance of a well stocked bird feeder for some species. Long-tailed tits only started using garden feeders in recent years, and now more people are spotting them in their gardens as this behaviour develops."

Despite this boost in numbers many other of Surrey's garden favourites are struggling. Sightings of well known species such as blackbirds and starlings have experienced another drop during the Big Garden Birdwatch this year. This decline continues a trend which has seen the number of both species visiting gardens decline by 27 and 13 per cent respectively since 2010.

Ben Andrew, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, added: "A lot of our favourite garden birds are struggling and are in desperate need of help. Gardens or outdoor spaces are an invaluable resource for many species. They can provide a safe habitat with food and water; having a significant effect on their populations."

The same trends have been spotted in the parallel event, Big Schools' Birdwatch, which continued to break records with more schools and children taking part than ever before. The UK-wide survey of birds in schools had close to100,000 school children spending an hour in nature counting birds. Blackbird remained the most common playground visitor for the eighth year in a row. The top three was rounded off by black-headed gull and starling.

Big Garden Birdwatch and Big Schools' Birdwatch are a part of the RSPB's Giving Nature a Home campaign, aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK's threatened wildlife. The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their gardens or outdoor space - whether it's putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond for frogs or building a home for hedgehogs.

1. The RSPB is the UK's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

2. 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch results: rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

3. RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch survey is the largest citizen science survey in the UK and is a part of the RSPB's Centre for Conservation Science. The centre was set up with the aim of finding practical solutions to the most pressing conservation problems, whether it's working out how to save a species on the verge of extinction or restoring a destroyed rainforest.

4. 2016 Big Schools' Birdwatch results:

Rank

Species

Change in rank 2015-2016

Average per school

% of schools

1

Blackbird

0

6.5

87

2

Starling

0

4.8

50

3

Woodpigeon

+3

4.8

72

4

Black-headed gull

0

4.7

41

5

House sparrow

-2

4.4

60

6

Carrion crow

-1

4.1

55

7

Magpie

+1

3.4

69

8

Blue tit

-1

2.8

69

9

Robin

+1

2.4

78

10

Jackdaw

+2

1.6

33

5. Top ten Big Garden Birdwatch results for Surrey in 2016:

Rank

Species

Ave No. Per garden

% of gdns reporting species

% change since 2015

1

Blue tit

3.2

87

2.46

2

Woodpigeon

2.7

84.1

-0.15

3

House sparrow

2

40.7

-5.5

4

Starling

1.9

35.6

-7.4

5

Blackbird

1.8

82.5

-12.71

6

Great tit

1.7

65.5

17.99

7

Robin

1.5

85.9

-4.77

8

Goldfinch

1.4

31.7

20.75

9

Magpie

1.4

65.3

-11.51

10

Long-tailed tit

1

29.5

53.95

6. The RSPB offers everything to easily create a haven for wildlife in your garden. All our expertise has been used to develop the very best food and homes, using sustainable materials whenever possible. All the profits from our shop go towards helping birds and wildlife. Browse below, or view our online shop for our full range of products. rspb.org.uk/shop

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Tagged with: Country: England Topic: Big Garden Birdwatch