CONSERVATION

Results are in – RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

The 2017 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results are now in. Nearly 1 million people throughout the UK joined in the worlds biggest garden wildlife survey for its 38th year.

It revealed fieldfares rising through the top 20 ranks in Orkney from 20th place to 16th this year. Orkneys top 5 were the starling, house sparrow, blackbird, collared dove and greenfinch, the same as in 2016. Overall, fieldfares were spotted in a third more gardens and robins in nearly 20% more gardens this year.

In the lead up to Birdwatch, the weather conditions had a positive impact on the number of visits from migrant birds due to the sub zero temperatures on the mainland forcing them to look for milder conditions. Robins are similar and are also known to migrate from the continent to spend winter in our gardens.

“The average number of robins seen visiting gardens across the UK was the highest level since 1986”

Scotland saw a diverse range of winged visitors and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of recorded waxwing sightings. When the berry crop fails in their native Scandinavia, the waxwings flock to Scotland in greater numbers every 7 – 8 years.

Keith Morton, Species Policy Officer at RSPB Scotland commented “The wildlife we see around where we live such as a blackbird singing from a rooftop or a robin perched in a tree is often one of the first experiences we have with nature. Having over 35,000 people in Scotland spend an hour taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch is fantastic and an indication of how much people enjoy seeing the wildlife that lives around them. Using the results from the 626,184 birds counted allows us to create a snapshot of how our garden birds are doing now, and compared to previous years. House sparrows remained at the top of the Scottish Birdwatch results, a position they have held since 2012. Starlings climbed up one place to second, pushing chaffinches down to third, and blackbirds and blue tits rounded off the Scottish top five for 2017. Our gardens and open spaces are invaluable resources for birds throughout the year. Wildlife-friendly gardens can provide birds, and other wildlife such as insects, amphibians and mammals, with places for them to eat, shelter, and bring up their young. Making your garden wildlife-friendly is a great way to help the garden birds we all love to see throughout the year as well as some of our more unusual visitors. Once birds know where a reliable source of food and shelter is to be found they will keep coming back to it which means you will be able to enjoy seeing them a lot more.”

The accompanying RSPB Big School’s Birdwatch survey saw over 6,300 school children in Scotland spend an hour in nature counting birds. Blackbird remained the most common playground visitor followed by carrion crow and starling. In Orkney, RSPB Scotland’s Outdoor Learning Officer Lindsey Taylor visited schools to carry out supporting activities with nearly 600 pupils, though which the children learned about their local birdlife and made fat ball feeders to attract birds into the school grounds.

For more information about the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results – www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

Farmland Magazine

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