10:00am Friday 24th February 2012
By Lewis Cowen
The sudden cold snap brought many more birds to Wiltshire gardens than when the weather was mild, a garden survey by the British Trust for Ornithology has found.
Householders were asked by the RSPB to keep a tally of the birds in their garden over the weekend of January 21 and 22 and figures were rather disappointing, with relatively few birds in evidence.
One week later, the trust (BTO), which holds surveys regularly throughout the year, found the pattern had changed dramatically and said this was because of the arctic weather conditions that descended on the country.
Fieldfares and Redwings, thrushes that immigrate from Scandinavia at this time of the year, were not in evidence in the mild spell during most of January.
Dr Tim Harrison of the BTO Garden Birdwatch said: “Fieldfares were not recorded in BTO Garden Birdwatch in Wiltshire before the recent cold weather. Now, numerous local householders are seeing this impressive thrush.”
The Pied Wagtail and Song Thrush are moving more into domestic gardens than they were and the sociable Jackdaw has also found times tougher and is turning to the region’s householders for handouts.
The snowy weather has seen the number of Blackbirds visiting gardens in Wiltshire increase by more than 50 per cent.
The House Sparrow continues its recovery in numbers by being the most numerous bird in the survey, with the Coal Tit, relatively rare compared to its cousins the Blue Tit and Great Tit, more in evidence than before.
Dr Harrison said: “The survival of these birds is on a knife edge but there is much that householders can do to help. Peanuts, finely grated cheese and beef suet can provide a calorific hit.
“Windfall or fresh fruit will help sustain thrushes, and sunflower hearts are a particular favourite with finches.”
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