Backwell Environment Trust

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YACWAG 2016 CHRISTMAS BIRD SURVEY REPORT

With help from our friends at Backwell Environment Trust and Nailsea Environment and Wildlife Trust and many non-members we received 120 surveys this year; almost exactly double the number (61) received last year. 49 species were recorded in gardens (up from 43 last year), there were 9 flyovers (same as last year) and a Tawny Owl heard. The average number of birds recorded in gardens was 34, exactly the same as last time.

The Blackbird retained the Number 1 spot appearing in 117 of the 120 gardens surveyed followed by Robin (114), Woodpigeon (101), Blue Tit (100), Magpie (90), House Sparrow (84), Great Tit (79), Collared Dove (70), Dunnock (60) and Starling (58).

Winners this year showing increased number of birds recorded were Blackbird, House Sparrow, Magpie, Pied Wagtail, Starling and Wood Pigeon.

There was an influx of Blackbirds from the continent before Christmas and this is reflected in a 50% increase in numbers. All percentages are based on the average numbers reported for each garden survey, so that the larger number of surveys this year is taken into account. The results for House Sparrow are particularly encouraging as after a long period of decline the local population seems to be on the increase again - numbers were up by 10%. Magpies have been stable for several years so a 50% rise this year was a surprise: not so Wood Pigeon which is now the third most common species in our gardens. It wasn't even in the top ten in 2008, but this species and Magpies are generalists, they are adaptable and are still increasing - there were 70% more recorded than in 2015.

Species noted in reduced numbers were Blackcap, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Long Tailed Tit.

There seems to have been a lot of natural food available in the Autumn and early Winter so less birds may have come in to gardens as a result. There are definitely fewer Collared Doves around and they do seem particularly vulnerable to predation by Sparrowhawks. Greenfinches are still suffering from trichomoniasis disease but it's a shock to see reduced numbers of Goldfinches and they have dropped out of the top 10 species seen. There have been some large flocks along the Strawberry Line and in Littlewood. I don't think that there is any evidence of a decline in numbers but after years of increase they may have stabilised.

The prize draw winners were Beryl Heeney from Congresbury and Katie (9) and Chloe (9) both from Yatton.

Win Lowman

Trevor Riddle

24 January 2017

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