News of Our Group, and Relevant News for Our Members

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Big Garden Birdwatch Berks 2017

Blackbird Feeding

See how Berkshire sightings compared with last year and with ten years ago.

Blackbird Photo - Chris Gomersall (

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results for Berkshire.

  • UK gardens have seen a boom in the number of visits from unusual migrant birds such as waxwings.
  • The number of robins seen visiting gardens is at its highest level for more than 20 years.
  • In excess of 497,000 people took part in the 2017 Birdwatch, counting over 8 million birds

The event revealed an explosion in the number of sightings of waxwings. They flock to UK gardens in winter once every 7-8 years, when the berry crop fails in their native Scandinavia. Known as an ‘irruption’, results showed that waxwings were seen in around 19 times more gardens in the south east in 2017 compared with previous years.

Weather conditions leading up to the Birdwatch attracted a range of different visitors to UK gardens. Along with waxwings, there was also a large jump in the number of visits from other migrant birds, such as redwing and fieldfare, as the sub-zero temperatures on the continent forced them to go in search of milder conditions. The south east saw numbers of redwing triple while our gardens saw a five-fold increase in fieldfare sightings.

Blackbirds, starlings, robins, goldfinches and long tailed tits did well in Berkshire in 2017. But some of our smaller garden birds like blue tits and great tits saw their population’s drop 18% and 16% respectively. Both species are susceptible to changes in weather throughout the year, and scientists believe that the prolonged wet weather during the 2016 breeding season led to fewer younger birds surviving than usual, meaning there were fewer to be seen in gardens.

This year’s results also pointed to the positive effects that wildlife friendly gardens are having on bird behaviours. Recorded sightings increased for sixteen of the top 20 Big Garden Birdwatch birds between 2016 and 2017 showing how gardens are becoming an invaluable resource for our most common British garden birds.

RSPB Officer Tim Webb said: “Gardens are an increasingly valuable resource for birds. They need food, water and shelter throughout the year and if we all provide these things in our outdoor spaces it will be a huge help to our garden birds, perhaps even playing a role in reversing some declines. We’re increasingly seeing rural birds in gardens and urban settings such as goldfinches. Our theory is that this behaviour change is because they are finding it easier to find food and shelter in gardens.”

Big Garden Birdwatch is a part of the RSPB Giving Nature a Home campaign, aimed at tackling the house crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. Provide a place for wildlife in your garden or outdoor spaces; whether it’s putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond for frogs or building a home for hedgehogs.

Berkshire’s top twenty most common garden birds:

 Species  Average per garden
  2017 2016 2007 2017 v 2016 2017 v 2007
Blue tit 2.4 2.89 2.86 -17.4 -16.6
Woodpigeon 2.7 2.77 2.00  -3.6  33.7
House sparrow 2.1 2.70 2.66 -23.4 -22.4
Blackbird 2.5 1.90 1.82  29.2  34.8
Starling 2.1 1.75 2.07  19.2   1.3
Great tit 1.3 1.55 1.34 -14.1  -0.8
Robin 1.7 1.50 1.34  10.0  23.4
Goldfinch 1.4 1.40 1.10   1.4  29.2
Magpie 1.3 1.25 1.12   1.8  14.0
Long-tailed tit 1.3 1.16 0.61  14.7 117.0
Collared dove 0.9 0.9    -5.8  
Dunnock 0.9 0.8    11.4  
Chaffinch 0.8 1.0   -19.4  
Jackdaw 0.6 0.6    -2.3  
Feral pigeon 0.5 0.5    -3.8  
Coal tit 0.5 0.6   -28.8  
Carrion crow 0.4 0.5   -10.0  
Greenfinch 0.3 0.5   -35.8  
Wren 0.3 0.3    -1.2  
G.s.woodpecker 0.2 0.2    -4.1