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Something weird in your neighbourhood?

Eagle Owls, Himalayan pheasants and tropical sunbirds in UK gardens?

Eagle Owls, Himalayan pheasants and tropical sunbirds. It may sound like a list of birds that you saw on your last trip abroad but all these, and other equally unlikely species, have been recorded in British gardens. The BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch survey has been monitoring the weird and wonderful bird life of the UK’s gardens for 10 years and would like more people to report the strange things they see.

When one thinks of a typical British garden, images of singing Blackbirds and hopping Robins are probably what springs to mind, but there is a whole other set of birds present in gardens that are more exotic in nature and are reported on a regular basis.“We often get reports of strange birds from gardens. Usually they turn out to be just something unfamiliar to the owner but sometimes we find the most improbable species in the most bizarre places. We now know to expect the unexpected,” says Martin Fowlie of the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch Team.

Tragopan pheasants from the Himalayas, sunbirds from southeast Asia and weaverbirds from Africa have all been reported from gardens and a few people have been given a bit of a shock by the sight of a huge Eagle Owl sitting on their lawn. Photographs of these exotic birds regularly appear in Bird Table, the Garden BirdWatch magazine.“Ring-necked Parakeets are now well established in southeast England but there are another 20 species of parrot that have been recorded in the UK. It is important that we know if, how and where these populations establish,” Martin adds. “What will be the next species to gain a foothold in the UK? Could it be another parrot, the Eagle Owl or something we don’t even know about yet? We need people’s help to record these birds so that we can find out what’s happening, so why not get in contact with Garden BirdWatch and tell us what you see in your garden.”

So, always be on the look out for strange things in your garden and if you see something weird … you know who to call!

The BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch needs your help to monitor the occurrence of these birds in the UK’s gardens. To receive a free information pack, phone on 01842 750050, write to GBW, Room 1, British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU, or email gbw@bto.org

4th July 2014