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Big Garden Birdwatch

?surprising results?

Today sees the results released from this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. The results come from a staggering 470,000 people watching in over 270,000 gardens, an amazing achievement. Comparing these results to those from the year round BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch survey throws up some expected similarities and some interesting differences.

The RSPB has announced the results of the 2006 Big Garden Birdwatch collected by almost half a million people. Whilst the top three most widespread bird species are the same between this and the year round BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch survey, other species in the top ten differ between the two surveys.

“Although the top three species are the same between the two surveys there are some really interesting differences. When we look at our results from January, we have the Dunnock at number five but it doesn’t feature in the Big Garden BirdWatch Top Ten. It is a species of conservation concern as it has shown worrying declines in recent years,” says Martin Fowlie, of the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch Team.

Dunnocks are quite wary birds, fond of staying close to cover and these may just not get noticed as much during the Big Garden Birdwatch’s one-hour survey in late January. On the flip side, Woodpigeons are big, obvious, noisy birds and make it to number seven in the RSPB top ten but only make it to number 13 in the BTO/CJ Garden BirdWatch list.“Birds also change the way they use gardens depending on the season. For species such as the Long-tailed Tit, winter is the time that they are most commonly encountered in gardens. For Song Thrushes it is the early spring, to coincide with the emergence of snails and other invertebrates. So depending on when you take your ‘snap shot’ of garden birds you’ll see very obvious differences in the visitors to your garden,” Martin adds.

The BTO scheme needs more people across the UK to record the occurrence of birds in their gardens. It has been running its Garden BirdWatch survey since 1995 and has highlighted changes in the use of the nation’s gardens by different bird species. Over 16,500 participants currently take part in Garden BirdWatch in the UK and send in simple weekly records of the bird species using their gardens. To receive a free information pack, phone on 01842 750050, mailto:gbw@bto.org or write to GBW, Room 12, British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU.

4th July 2014