A Dunnock scavenges under the feeders. (c. Oran O’Sullivan)

The results of last winters Garden Bird Survey are now available. They make very interesting reading, given the sharp weather experienced last February.  The so called ‘Beast from the East’ brought polar air conditions and heavy snow to our gardens, and lots of bewildered birds.

 The joint highest total of 91 species was recorded in our gardens last winter. Unusual garden visitors such as Snipe and Lapwing taking refuge. There was also a sharp spike in the numbers of Thrushes visiting gardens in February. This reflects the difficulty in finding food in frozen fields and empty hedgerows. 

Siskins and Goldfinches squabble at the nyjer feeder (c. Oran O’Sullivan)

The top ten most widespread visitors remain largely unchanged. However, Goldfinch was up to 8th place and occurred in 87% of gardens surveyed.  Another finch to do well was the Bullfinch, in 51% of gardens, its highest position.  Bramblings put in a good showing and were recorded in 7% of gardens. Great Spotted Woodpeckers continue to advance into gardens in winter. They graced 14 gardens last winter, compared to just 4 the previous winter.  

A male Woodpecker visits the peanut feeder ( c. Oran O’Sullivan)

Only time will tell whether the extreme conditions at the tail end of last winter will affect the numbers recorded in this winters Garden Bird Survey.. I think not, judging on how busy it is around the feeders in this so far, mild winter.   Our native birds also had a chance to recover and experience a very successful breeding season after a long, dry and hot summer.