Radio Birds

By Harry Green

In response to an RSPB press release and in connection with a natural history phone-in which John Meiklejohn and I undertook for BBC Hereford & Worcester on 11th February the radio station appealed for listeners to take part in a simple garden bird count. So in the week ending 11th February 2000 20 people sent in counts of their garden birds based on watching for about one hour for five days. Participants were scattered across both Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

Although this can hardly be called a scientific study the results were actually quite interesting. In descending order of quantity the species were:

1Sparrows737national 3
2Blue tits509national 2
3Great tits353national 8
4Starlings344national 6
5Blackbirds314national 1
6Greenfinches276national 5
7Chaffinches230national 7
8Robins220national 9
9Wood pigeons158
11Dunnocks127national 10
12Collared doves107national 4
14Jackdaws 93
15Plovers 88
16Goldfinches 56
17Coal tits 37
18Thrushes 36
19Wrens 36
20Rooks 31
21Jays 30
22Bullfinches 30
23Fieldfares 24
24Siskins 18
25Pheasants 17
26Pied Wagtails 14
27Buzzards 14
28Long-tailed tits 12
29Woodpeckers 12
30Sea gulls 9
31Nuthatches 5
32Blackcaps 4
33Linnets 4
34Sparrowhawks 3
35Herons 2
36Goldcrests 2
37Skylarks 1
38Hawk 1
39White wagtails 1
40Coot 1
41Willow tits 1

Average per hour42.18

The counts reflect the national figures for garden birds shown by the BTO GardenBirdwatch quite well in that most of our top ten are in the national top ten. However, we seem to have more crows and wood pigeons! I never did get to the bottom of the “plovers” but guess they were lapwings flying over! It is also interesting to speculate on some of the records - what was a coot doing in a garden? And reflect on the vast numbers of birds which use gardens in winter - 4000 in 20 gardens in 5 days multiplied by the number of gardens in the two counties is a lot of birds, even if you allow for bird-poor gardens.

The BTO GardenBirdwatch scheme has been running for five years now and is proving to be a very useful monitoring system to be used alongside other BTO surveys. The results are revealing interesting cyclical changes though the year and general population trends. Currently about 250 garden watchers participate in the survey in Worcestershire. If anyone wishes to join in you would be very welcome. Information from BTO, Thetford, IP24 2PU.


CANNON, ANDREW 1998 Garden BirdWatch Handbook. BTO

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