RSPB: HOMES FOR WILDLIFE APRIL UPDATE 29/04/2013

WELCOME BACK TO HOMES FOR WILDLIFE

MY APRIL UPDATE

Create bog garden
Leave a fallen tree where it is or move only a minimal distance
Delay cutting until late winter if possible
Cultivate flat-topped flowers for hoverflies

In my last newsletter I thought that spring had seemed a long time coming. Well, it hasn’t exactly put its skates on since, has it?

Someone asked me whether this meant that climate change isn’t happening, but of course the truth is that this is weather rather than climate – eastern Europe is always still freezing at this time of year, so if the weather systems bring us winds from the east, then we’re going to be shivering, climate change or no climate change.

Looking out of the window, however, I can see the first pussy willow is out, which should provide nectar for brave early bumblebees and especially spring moths such as the Hebrew character and common quaker.

If anyone caught my podcast last week, you’ll know I was looking out of my window then too, and got terribly distracted by afirecrest in my garden. Yes, not a goldcrest, but its rarer (and very cute) cousin. It’s amazing what wildlife turns up in gardens.

I dread to think what it thought of the massed array of pots all over my garden at the moment. They’re what I’m growing for the RSPB feature garden I’ve designed for June’s Gardeners World Live at the NEC.

This isn’t one of those £100,000 show gardens, but with the help of a team of volunteers up in Bedfordshire and the RSPB team atFlatford Wildlife Garden, we’re hoping to pull something special out of the bag. Follow our progress here.

Happy spring gardening!

Adrian

Things to watch for in April

Here’s a challenge: look for a creature in your garden you’ve never noticed before.

It could be a bee-fly visiting violets or ground ivy glowers. It’s a bit like a small bumblebee with very long thin ‘fur’ and a long black spike of a proboscis sticking out in front of it like a insect version of a unicorn.

Or how about the hairy-footed flower bee? Males, which are kind of gingery with a darker tail-end and an obvious white face, dart from flower to flower, humming as they go. The females do the same but are black all over.

Or look into your pond, very closely (and safely, of course!) and you might see a little cloud of tiny dots, like a swarm of the tiniest underwater flies, each one moving with tiny jerky movements. These are called Daphnia, which fuel many of the foodchains in the pond.

Adrian Thomas,
Wildlife gardening expert

MY GARDEN

This page is your personal advice list, based on the answers you gave about the size of your garden, the features in it and improvements you’re planning to make to your home.

We have divided the list up into topics. Each topic is numbered and has a downloadable factsheet that you can print out and keep. Topics also have actions that you can tick once you have completed them.

The most important actions for each topic are indicated with a gold star.

Filter my advice list

If your list of advice is very long, choose a type of advice from the drop-down list below.

IMPROVING MY GARDEN

MANAGING MY GARDEN

HELPING BIRDS

HELPING OTHER WILDLIFE

GREEN LIVING

© 2008 The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Written By Lizzie & Joshua Christian. Copyright (c) 29/04/2013

RSPB: OUR BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH & HOMES FOR WILDLIFE 29/04/2013

WELCOME BACK TO OUR ‘BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH’

This week has brought beautiful sunshine and cool winds the beautiful Spring flowers are out in abundance, the birds are singing their Spring Chorus, the chick are being feed with parent birds gathering the worms and bugs in their beaks. Woody has been around yesterday for his Coconut Treat and the Tit Families (Great, Coal, Blue, Long-Tailed) and Robins are still coming to the feeders.

*Today we made two more recycled Coconut treats…

made with Cereals, Seeds, Nuts, Mealworms and Beef Suet

All that Goodness!!!!!

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Mmmmm yummy scrummy… we have put one up with the ordinary one to see which they like best!!

*(See recipe in previous blogs)

If you would like any of our recipes you can contact us by email

rainbowlizzie@live.co.uk

Written By Lizzie & Joshua Christian. Copyright (c) 29/04/2013

RSPB: OUR BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH & HOMES FOR WILDFLIFE 28/04/2013

WELCOME BACK TO OUR ‘BIG GARDEN BIRD WATCH’

This week has brought beautiful warm sunshine, all the tree are baring new life bright green leaves are opening and flourishing with one day of heavy rain and hail which was refreshing and well needed for the earth, as the scent of the dry earth as the rain came down hit the senses of sweet mother earth.

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WOODLANDS COMING TO LIFE BUDS OPENING & BRIGHT GREEN LEAVES FLOURISHING   

We have started introducing a different feeder mix for a warmer Spring and the parents and chicks when the are ready to use the feeders as and when they need to, there will always be a supply of food all year round. Same with Squirrels and other wildlife we feed.

OUR SPRING FEEDER MIX

High Energy & Garden Friendly

White Dari, Suet Pellet, Hempseed Chopped Peanuts, Red Dari, Red Millet, Sunflower Hearts, Canary Seed, Japanese Millet, Naked Oats, Nyjer Seed. All the above and more…Cereal, Nuts and Seeds

To Attract: Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, House Sparrow, Tree  Sparrow.

We have also put in the other window feeder Dried mealworms, with a sprinkle of Bugs ‘n’ Bits: Dried Mealworms, Water Flies & River Shrimp. The go in a week or less!

But the hanging Nyjer seed feeder is not having so much success with, I think we need a better feeder for the Nyjer seed. with our next RSBP order.

Well today has been a therapeutic, soothing and resting day after a horrendous stressful weekend in A+E. We always love watching and fascinated by our local feathered friends and wildlife. And our local Robins are now enjoying the Coconut Treat as much a the ‘Tit Families (Great, Coal, Blue & Long-Tailed Tits) and Woody Greater Spotted Woodpecker and now Robins.

May the sun keep shining and the rain to keep everything flurished and growing,

May we be blessed by God’s Creation in every way, each and every day, AMEM

Written By Lizzie & Joshua Christian. Copyrighted (c) 28/04/2013.

      

RSPB/BTO: OUR BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH & HOMES FOR WILDLIFE 24/04/2013

WELCOME BACK TO OUR ‘BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH’

Yippeee!!!! We had our first visit from a pair of Dunnocks very distinctive, looked like a Robin and stood like a Robin, but had a brown patch on his head, we saw Dunnock from the front angle, hopefully they will return and come to our feeders, we will wait to see. 

Also, it wa the first time we have seen Robin at the Coconut Treat!! Awesome! And this week we are looking after our friend’s Parakeet ‘MILLIE’ and even though she has been flying around the flat and chirping away quite loudly, the other birds outside are still coming to our feeders which is amazing and don’t seem to be affected be ‘Millie’ at all.

We have added another hanging bird feeder for the Nyjer seed to go inn which we have hung in the  Left Window Bird Feeding Station. Moved the water feeder to the right hand side and then put the Nyjer feeder up on the right side, looks even now and all the feeders are up with success. We have taken down the small treats tray for another day, mainly for winter.

 

LEFT WINDOW BIRD FEEDING STATION: Main Window Feeder with High Energy Feed Mix; Water Feeder & Nyjer Feeder.

Environmentally: Now that Spring has finally sprung, upon us as the weather has changed and warming up yesterday was 16C degrees (real feel 16 C degrees!) and all the buds on the Beech trees are finally starting to open at long last, a few weeks late, better late than never!! Will take some pics later.

Here is some info of our local feathered friend Dunnock, although we have no photos as yet. 

DUNNOCK  Prunella modulariss

Although the Dunnock is one of many small, streaky, sparrow-like birds, the Dunnock has a fine bill, grey head and breast, and  forages on the ground with a distinctive, jerky, creeping shuffle. If disturbed, it generally flies at ground level into the nearest thick bush. The Dunnock has reddish-brown eyes, a fine dark bill, orange-brown legs, black-streaked brown wings and back, with rich brown and black streaks, grey throat, also with pale spots on wings and browner head.

HABITS: For most of the year tends to be solitary although up to six may come together where food is plentiful. Creeps mouse-like on the ground, often giving a nervous flick of its wings. In courtship individuals flick open their wings and wave them above their backs while calling shrilly. Courtship includes a wing-shivering display by the female, after which the dominant male pecks her cloaca until she ejects a package of sperm. Mating then follows. Often two males mate with one female and the less dominant male helps feed the young. Dunnocks are frequent hosts for Cuckoos.

FOOD & FEEDING: Picks small insects and seeds from ground, shuffling  under and around bushes. Forages for food in low, dense scrub and bushes, on heaths and moors, and in forests, woods, parks, and gardens. Most food is found on the ground. Takes invertebrates, including beetles, snails, spiders, flies, worms, and springtails. It also eats berries, seed and grain. It visits gardens for bird food, but is an unusual visitor to a raised bird table, and more likely to feed underneath.

HABITAT: Breeds in a wide variety of habitats, especially gardens. Other habitats include deciduous woodland, low thick scrub, bramble patches, farmland where there are hedges, bracken on moorland  and conifer plantations. Nesting in small grassy cup lined with hair, moss in bush; 4=5 eggs; 2-3 broods; Aug-Jul.

VOICE: Loud, high,penetrating pseep, vibrant teee; song high, fast warble. Call is a shrill, piping ‘tseep’ that is also heard while the birds are displaying. The short, fast warble is often given from a prominent perch in low trees and bushes. Males sing in the winter, but most song is heard between January  and July. Males copy parts of neighbouring Dunnock’s songs and incorporate them into their own.

 

Written By Lizzie & Joshua Christian. Copyrighted  (c) 24/04/2013.

 

BTO: About Garden BirdWatch 2013

Bullfinches by John Harding 

Help us chart birds like Bullfinch

Many birdwatchers and householders already keep simple records of the birds that they see using their gardens throughout the year. The collection of such information is incredibly useful and, if carried out in a systematic manner, these weekly observations of birds (or indeed other garden wildlife) can prove very valuable for researchers.

BTO Garden BirdWatch enables you to collect this information in a standardised way alongside similar information from many thousands of other garden birdwatchers. In effect, you are a ‘citizen scientist’ working in partnership with BTO researchers to answer important questions about how, why and when birds use gardens and the resources they contain.

This section of our website provides more information about the project, its originsmethods and the team who work behind the scenes to support you. You will also find our latest news, details of forthcomingtalks and events and details of how to contact us.

There is also information on some of the other garden-based projects that we run alongside Garden BirdWatch, such as our work on House Sparrowsdiseaseactivity patterns and bird behaviour.Type the text here

Click here to join Garden BirdWatch

Garden BirdWatch is funded through the annual subscription paid by its participants and we are extremely grateful for the support that they provided.

If you’d like to join Garden BirdWatch then you can do this online today if you want.

Join GardenBirdwatch

Join Garden BirdWatch through our secure online system 

Garden BirdWatch is all about getting involved and making a difference by collecting simple information on the birds and other wildlife using your garden. This information enables researchers at the BTO to monitor the changing fortunes of garden wildlife.

The project is funded by its participants, through an annual subscription of £17.00.

Join today and receive a free copy of ‘Garden Birds & Wildlife (cover price £14.99).

You’ll also receive four copies of Bird Table (our quarterly magazine), be able to access GBW Online (your very own web-based notebook for recording your garden wildlife) and get expert advice from the BTO to help you identify, understand and look after the wildlife in your garden.

Need to renew your support? – click here

 

You can join in one of three ways:

 

 

 

3. Phone us on 01842-750050

 

 

Buy this presentation pack for a friend 

Want to buy a gift subscription for a friend or relative?

We have just produced a new version of the Gift Pack that comes in this rather smart and solid presentation box.

The box contains:

an annual subscription to Garden BirdWatch,

a welcome letter,

a quick start guide,

instructions and recording forms,

advice on feeding and attracting garden birds

a car sticker.

Also in the pack is the all-important activation card. Once the recipient returns the card they will be sent a copy of the acclaimed book Gardens Birds and Wildlife by Mike Toms and Paul Sterry, the first of their quarterly Bird Tablemagazines and everything else they need to get started with Garden BirdWatch.

The presentation pack costs £19.95 and is available through the BTO’s online store.

Find out more.

Want to find out more about GBW first? Then request a free information pack from gbw@bto.org

 

 

BTO: BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH (GBW)

Latest News from the (GBW) 2012

Garden BirdWatch monitors the changing fortunes of birds and other garden wildlife through its network of ‘citizen scientists’. Observations collected by BTO Garden BirdWatchers are analysed by BTO researchers and published in leading journals. BTO Garden BirdWatchers have charted the decline of the House Sparrow, the rise of the Woodpigeon, have discovered that urban birds get up later than their rural counterparts and have alerted conservationists to the impact of an emerging disease in Greenfinches.Find out more about the project here

Garden BirdWatch Annual Results 2012

Coal Tit (John Harding) 

Annual Results for the BTO Garden BirdWatch Survey have just been published. 2012 was a year of unusual weather and intriguing movements of birds into gardens. February snowfall brought Redwings, Fieldfares and others, while the wet spring and summer saw birds such as Siskins turning to gardens for help. Perhaps the most striking trends were in early autumn when a scarcity of natural seeds and nuts caused Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Jay and several other birds to focus on garden feeding stations instead.

See the national and local results.


Red letter days in gardens
Lesser Redpoll (Mike Gough) 

BTO Garden BirdWatchers have charted a record influx of Lesser Redpolls into gardens over recent weeks. Around 1 in 12 participants spotted this attractive finch in early March, representing a huge increase since 2008. Their numbers in gardens peak during early spring when natural seed availability in the countryside is depleted. Read about their influx and download our free Lesser Redpoll factsheet.


Avian pox in Great Tits
Great Tit, by John Harding 

Reports of avian pox in Great Tits are a recent phenomenon and have shown a marked increase since 2006, with many individuals showing particularly large and unpleasant looking lesions. The emergence of avian pox in British tits has been investigated by researchers at the Institute of Zoology, the Edward Grey Institute, the BTO and RSPB, working together to unravel the reasons behind the recent spread of cases. A series of three papers on the topic have just been published in the journal PLOS One, one of which uses data collected by BTO Garden BirdWatchers.

Find out more.


 

Garden Blackcap Survey – now finished!
Blackcap (Mike Gough) 

Thank you so much for the wonderful response to our Garden Blackcap Survey. Well over 2,500 people took part in this month-long project. The survey has now finished. Participants who left an email address or those who took part on paper, will be sent preliminary results in the spring. Download our factsheet about wintering Blackcaps.

 


 

Keep telling us about your unusual-looking garden birds
Blue Tit (Phil Littler) 

The BTO Abnormal Plumage Survey and Big Garden Beak Watch projects are still on-going. If you see a bird with unusual-coloured plumage or a deformed beak in your garden, please let us know so that we can keep a record of these individuals. We are particularly interested in knowing where these birds are seen, the kinds of abnormalities that they experience and whether their behaviour differs from ‘normal’ individuals.

 


 

New study of birds and garden berries
Song Thrush, by John Harding 

Berries and other fruits provide an important resource for many birds during the autumn and winter, with those in gardens particularly well used by thrushes, Starlings and wintering warblers. Different berries and fruits become available at different times and there is evidence to suggest that birds favour some fruits over others, often using berry colour to make their selection. Despite a lengthy list of berries and fruits that have been put forward as being attractive to birds, we lack hard scientific evidence of which plants and varieties of plants are favoured by which bird species. Our new study sets out to address this question.

Find out more.


 

Give the gift of Garden BirdWatch
Garden BirdWatch Gift Pack - only £19.95 

Our smart new presentation pack means that you can now give the gift of BTO Garden BirdWatch to a friend or relative. The pack, which retails at £19.95, contains all that is needed to get started recording garden wildlife. Once the activation card is returned, the recipient will be sent a free copy of the acclaimedGarden Birds & Wildlife and four quarterly issues of Bird Table magazineOrder your copy today.

The pack contains: an annual sunscription to GBW, a welcome letter, an activation card, a quick start guide, instructions, advice on feeding and attracting garden birds and a car sticker. Return the activation card to receive a free copy of Garden Birds and Wildlife, four quarterly issues of Bird Table magazine, access to BTO experts, access to GBW Online.

 

 

 

BTO: How did the 2012 downpours affect nesting in garden birds and what will 2013 hold?

No.: 2013-15 April 2013

After contending with an exceptionally wet spring and summer, in most parts of the UK last year, how will birds nesting in our gardens fare in 2013? Help the BTO find out by taking part in the Nest Box Challenge (NBC).

Blue Tit by Tommy Holden/BTO

The BTO is calling on householders across the UK to help them track the progress of nesting birds in gardens during 2013 by getting involved in this year’s Nest Box Challenge.

Gardens provide both food and nest sites for birds, and an increasing number of species are choosing to raise their offspring in our back gardens. Recent analyses of BTO data suggest that over a third of UK Blackbirds now nest around human habitation, favouring thick hedges and shrubs, while over a fifth of the nation’s Blue Tits breed in our villages, towns and cities.

Birds had to contend with an exceptionally wet summer in 2012, which reduced the abundance of caterpillars, a food source that species such as Blue and Great Tit depend on to provide food for their chicks. A comparison of NBC results for 2012 with those from the Nest Record Scheme (NRS), the BTO’s survey of nesting birds in the wider countryside, suggests that those breeding in gardens may have fared better, as NBC Organiser Hazel Evans explains: “Blue Tit and Great Tit clutch sizes in all habitats were around average in 2012. However, NRS participants recorded a reduction in brood sizes of about 20%, a much bigger drop than that noted in gardens by NBC participants.”

If birds in gardens are better able to cope with extreme weather events, this could have longer-term implications with regards to climate change. “The impact of weather, be it a wet summer or a warming climate, on the breeding success of birds, may be influenced by their diet,” states Dr Dave Leech, Head of the Nest Record Scheme at the BTO. “If birds are increasingly foraging on non-native garden plants or relying more heavily on supplementary food, they may be less susceptible to changes in the availability of more ‘traditional’ foodstuffs, such as caterpillars.”

“Will the terrible weather in 2012 have reduced the numbers of birds breeding in gardens this year?” asks Hazel, ”and will the cold winter lead to smaller clutches and fewer fledglings? Nest Box Challenge participants can answer these questions by counting eggs and chicks in any nests they find in their garden, from Collared Doves on satellite dishes to Blue Tits in boxes, and entering their records on the NBC website.”

Notes for Editors

  1. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO’s work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.www.bto.org
  2. Participants follow a special Code of Conduct to ensure nesting attempts are not put at risk. Originally the project focused on nests in boxes, but it has since been expanded to incorporate all nests in gardens, including the Collared Dove nest on your satellite dish!
  3. Nest Box Challenge is organised by the BTO. The project was launched in 2007, in conjunction with the BBC – join the nest monitoring community by registering today!
  4. Nest Box Challenge 2012 results can be found here
  5. Under the BTO/JNCC Nest Record Scheme (NRS), established in 1939, volunteer nest recorders gather vital information on the productivity of the UK’s birds, using simple, standardised techniques. Over 35,000 records, each detailing the contents of individual nests, are currently submitted each year, allowing long-term trends in breeding success to be produced for over 70 species.

Contact Details

Hazel Evans
(NBC Organiser)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: nbc@bto.org

Dr Dave Leech
(Head of Nest Record Scheme)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: dave.leech@bto.org

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press@bto.org

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images@bto.org quoting reference 2013-15

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

BTO: Help map Norfolk’s Bats

No.: 2013-14 April 2013

The Norfolk Bat Survey (www.batsurvey.org) would like to give anyone in Norfolk a unique opportunity to take advantage of recent advances in technology for automating the capture and analysis of acoustic data for bats. By doing so, you will help us rewrite our understanding of bats in the county. In return for your help, we will let you know what species of bats were recorded, in an area that is of interest to you.

Amy Lewis/BTO

To achieve this, we have set up a number of ‘Bat Monitoring Centres’ across the county, from which you can borrow equipment for a few days to take part in the survey. Please note that this survey requires three different points, ideally at least 200-metres apart, to be surveyed on consecutive nights within a 1-km square.

Dr Stuart Newson, BTO Senior Research Ecologist (and project manager for Norwich Bat Group) commented: “It is really exciting to have an opportunity to work in partnership with local bat groups, local and national organisations and local libraries, to improve our understanding of bats in the county” He added “This is a real opportunity for local communities, landowners, reserve managers and individuals who are interested to take part and find out what bats are present in their area”.

Nida Al Fulaij, PTES Grants Manager, said that “PTES is delighted to be supporting this exciting project. The potential long-term benefits of supporting volunteers with equipment and advice will greater enhance our understanding of, and potential to conserve, the bats of Norfolk.”

Whilst we hope to build on this project in following years, we are limited by the number of detectors in this first pilot year, so if you are interested in taking part, you need to be quick in expressing interest, and reserving your 1-km square to survey at our online survey map www.batsurvey.org/sign-up. After selecting a 1-km square (or squares if interested in covering more than one square), you will be given a web link to a site where you can reserve a detector to use from the most convenient Bat Monitoring Centre to you.

Where’s your closest Bat Monitoring Centre?

Note we hope to set up three additional centres close to Hethersett, Aylsham and Caister.

Last year we recorded 11 bat species in the Norwich area alone (see editors comments), including Nathusius’ Pipistrelle, which was recorded at 9% of surveyed 1-km squares, but previously reported from only a handful of sites in the county. Help us find out what’s in the rest of Norfolk.

Notes for Editors

  1. The Norfolk Bat Survey is led by the BTO and Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service (local records centre) in partnership with the Norfolk Barbastelle Study Group, Norfolk Woodland Myotis Study Group, Norwich Bat Group, National Trust (Oxburgh Hall and Sheringham Park), Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (Welney Wetland Centre), Wheatfen (Ted Ellis reserve), Sculthorpe Moor (Hawk & Owl Trust), Broads Authority (How Hill), RSPB (Titchwell) and Norfolk County Council local libraries (Attleborough, Watton, Wells, Swaffham, Dereham, Gaywood, Long Stratton) and the University of East Anglia.
  2. This project builds on “The Big Norwich Bat Project” – a collaboration between Norwich Bat Group, University of East Anglia and BTO and where a detector is brought to you! In 2012 the project surveyed 167 of 196 1-km squares in the wider Norwich area, generating >30,000 high quality records to feed into county and UK reporting. We are repeating this survey in 2013. If you live in the Norwich area, please have a look at our Big Norwich Bat Project coverage map.
  3. We are extremely grateful to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and Natural England (Defra Fund for Biodiversity Recording in the Voluntary Sector) for funding this pilot survey this year.PTES is a UK conservation charity created in 1977 to ensure a future for endangered species throughout the world. Working to protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, it provides practical conservation support through funding research and internships and providing grant-aid for world-wide and native mammals species’ conservation. www.ptes.org

    The Defra fund for biodiversity recording in the voluntary sector is a funding programme established to deliver part of the published government commitment in the Natural Environment White Paper to support the voluntary sector’s role in engaging with the natural environment and contributing to our understanding of its state and trends.  In total, the government has committed £1.2 million over three years to a series of funding schemes including support for the National Biodiversity Network, and research to support volunteer recorders and data use.  These funds have been allocated to a series of activities, one of which is the Defra fund. This fund is administered by Natural England and totals £398,000 over a three year period 2011–14.

    About Natural England. Natural England is the government’s independent adviser on the natural environment. Established in 2006 our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.

    – We establish and care for England’s main wildlife and geological sites, ensuring that over 4,000 National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest are looked after and improved.

    – We work to ensure that England’s landscapes are effectively protected, designating England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and advising widely on their conservation.

    – We run Environmental Stewardship and other green farming schemes that deliver over £400 million a year to farmers and landowners, enabling them to enhance the natural environment across two thirds of England’s farmland.

    – We fund, manage, and provide scientific expertise for hundreds of conservation projects each year, improving the prospects for thousands of England’s species and habitats.

    – We promote access to the wider countryside, helping establish National Trails and coastal trails and ensuring that the public can enjoy and benefit from them.

Contact Details

Dr Stuart Newson
(BTO Senior Ecologist)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: norfolkbatsurvey@gmail.com

Twitter:  @BatsNorfolk
Facebook:  Norfolk Bat Survey

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press@bto.org

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images@bto.org quoting reference 2013-14

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

BTO: Another one bites the crust: struggling birds turn to feeders

No.:  2013-13 March 2013

Thousands of birds are homing in on garden feeding stations as Arctic conditions persist. Latest results from the year-round British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch survey show a mass influx of many familiar species as they struggle to survive.

Robin with apples by Jill Pakenham/BTO

The current cold snap could not have come at a worse time for birds. Late winter is a period when natural foods are scarce. Seeds and fruits that were abundant during autumn have been depleted over winter, while many insects – which are cold-blooded and, therefore, are slower to emerge when the weather is cold – are yet to appear this year.

The double-whammy is that birds are not just thinking about survival at the moment – they are also thinking about sex. Males want to be devoting their time to singing in order to claim and defend their territories, while females want to be feeding up to gain enough nutrients to lay their eggs. Amidst the unseasonably cold conditions, many birds are being forced to postpone nesting activities and, instead, to focus on survival.

Thankfully – as is so often the case – food provided by householders is providing vital support. Latest results from the BTO Garden BirdWatch survey show that visitors ranging from the tiny Long-tailed Tit to the portly Woodpigeon have been spotted much more often in gardens over the past fortnight compared with the previous three-year average.

Species                      % increase in BTO Garden BirdWatch counts:
March 2013 vs. March 
2010–12 average
Siskin 187% higher
Woodpigeon 53%
Long-tailed Tit 45%
Fieldfare 42%
Redwing 41%
Chaffinch 39%
Jackdaw 29%
Blackbird 28%
Goldfinch 24%
Robin 12%

Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden Ecology Team, commented: “Mid to late March is a terrible time of year for such testing weather conditions to set in. A few months ago birds were essentially focused solely on survival but now they are also trying to get on with nesting, with some still needing to migrate to their breeding grounds.”

He added: “Thanks to citizen scientists who take part in the weekly BTO Garden BirdWatch survey, we have been able to chart this critical period in unique detail. The most remarkable increase has been in the Siskin, which visited almost two in five gardens last week – its highest reporting rate since 1995. Its cousin, the Goldfinch, has also been seen in large numbers, delighting over two thirds of householders last week.”

Top tips for feeding birds in cold weather:

  1. Grind up peanuts and scatter these on bird tables and on the ground.
  2. Provide sunflower hearts in tube feeders and on the ground.
  3. Finely grate cheese, beef or vegetable suet on bird tables and the ground. You could also provide a few bread or cake crumbs.
  4. Put out windfall or fresh fruit on the ground for Robins and thrushes.
  5. Mealworms can be a real hit for invertebrate-eating birds such as Blackbirds and Wrens.
  6. Don’t forget that birds also need clean, fresh water for drinking and bathing.

For information about how to become a BTO Garden BirdWatcher, including a free copy of our quarterly magazine ‘Bird Table’, please email gbw@bto.org or telephone 01842-750050.

Notes for Editors

  1. The BTO Garden BirdWatch is the only nationwide survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year, providing important information on how birds use gardens, and how this use changes over time. Currently, some 15,000 people take part in the project. The project is funded by participants’ contributions and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world. For more information see www.bto.org/gbw
  2. The data presented here are from BTO Garden BirdWatch from mid to late March.
  3. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO’s work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations. www.bto.org
  4. BTO foods and feeders can be purchased through Ernest Charles.

Contact Details

Dr Tim Harrison
(Garden BirdWatch Development Officer)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: tim.harrison@bto.org

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press@bto.org

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images@bto.org quoting reference 2013-13

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

BTO: Garden birdwatchers are seeing red

No.: 2013-12 March 2013

The delicate Lesser Redpoll is sweeping into a record number of gardens this spring, thrilling householders as it goes. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has produced a free factsheet to help people to discover more about this bubbly newcomer.

The finch family boasts many popular garden birds, including Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Bullfinch. More recently, a growing number of people have been able to add Lesser Redpoll to this list. Results collected through the year-round BTO Garden BirdWatch survey show a 15-fold increase in the use of gardens by Lesser Redpolls over the last few weeks compared with the same period five years ago.

Lesser Redpoll Image by Mike Gough/BTO

The new BTO Lesser Redpoll Factsheet will help people to get to know this bird, including how to identify it, which can be a headache. Lesser Redpolls are by far the most frequently seen of the redpoll species in the UK, but occasionally householders will spot Common or even Arctic Redpolls. These birds all look similar so the factsheet highlights helpful distinguishing features.

Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden Ecology Team, commented: “Lesser Redpolls are a terrific addition to any garden, bringing with them lots of activity and lively twittering. They are sociable birds, often travelling with Siskins and Goldfinches during early spring.”

He added: “Their increasing use of bird feeders – particularly of nyger seed – is of considerable interest and importance because Lesser Redpolls are a species of high conservation concern. Early spring sees their abundance in gardens peak, so now is a great time to find out more about them.”

To request the free BTO Lesser Redpoll Factsheet, please email gbw@bto.org or telephone 01842-750050 and ask for the Garden Ecology Team.

Notes for Editors

  1. To view the Lesser Redpoll Factsheet please visit here.
  2. Find out more about Lesser Redpolls on BTO BirdFacts and Bird Trends.
  3. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. The BTO’s work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations. www.bto.org
  4. The BTO Garden BirdWatch is the only nationwide survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year, providing important information on how birds use gardens, and how this use changes over time. Currently, some 15,000 people take part in the project. The project is funded by participants’ contributions and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world. For more information see www.bto.org/gbw
  5. BTO foods and feeders can be purchased through Ernest Charles.

Contact Details

Dr Tim Harrison
(Garden BirdWatch Development Officer)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: tim.harrison@bto.org

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Media Manager)

Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press@bto.org

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images@bto.org quoting reference 2013-12

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews.
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050