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What Winter for UK Birds?

BTO Garden BirdWatch

What will the winter hold for birds?

So far the unusual weather of 2014 has clearly driven unexpected highs and lows in garden bird numbers. With another bumper crop of food in the wider countryside, British Trust for Ornithology Garden BirdWatch (GBW) results show that some species have abandoned gardens for the second autumn in a row. However, others are being seen in unprecedented numbers prompting the question: what will happen this winter? With Christmas approaching, why not grab a front row seat for a loved one with the GBW gift pack, so that they can help us find out?

This year has not produced the expected patterns in garden use by birds. During the summer, it looked like garden bird species were returning to normal numbers. The warm, settled weather led to an early breeding season, boosting numbers of birds such as Wren and Goldfinch.

High numbers did not persist. With a bumper crop of seeds and berries in the wider countryside for the second year in a row, there has been a dip in many species, matching patterns seen last year. Chaffinches started off in very low numbers at the beginning of the year, looked like they could be returning to gardens in August, but then dropped off again, and the pattern of Coal Tits is similar. However, other seed-eating species have remained in high numbers in gardens, such as Nuthatch and Jay.

Clare Simm, from the BTO Garden BirdWatch team, commented "With surprising patterns of garden use by birds, it looks set to be an interesting winter for garden birdwatchers. We can only chart the patterns of movements by garden birds with the help of the public, and if you enjoy watching the birds in your garden, you can help add to this vital information."

If you, or someone you know, spend a few minutes each week watching what the birds get up to in your garden, then that is already enough to take part in the BTO Garden BirdWatch. Our GBW gift pack makes the perfect Christmas gift, so why not grab a front row seat for you, or a loved one, to help us find out what the winter holds.

To buy a BTO Garden BirdWatch gift pack, or to find out more information about the BTO Garden BirdWatch, please get in touch by emailing: gbw@bto.org or telephoning 01842 750050, or writing to GBW Gift Pack, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.

More information on the gift pack can also be found at http://bto-enews.org/NXI-2ZJZX-3BWYNQ-1CZG6K-0/c.aspx

Clare Simm

19th November 2014