Birds thinned down

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 veteye 27 Nov 2022

The number of birds in my garden, and possibly in general, seems to have reduced over a period of time. The numbers of finches have declined over several years, though in the middle of that, we had a good cluster of Goldfinch young. Yet now I am not seeing any finches.

Presumably the bird flu is affecting a number of species?

There has been a slight increase recently, possibly as it has got a little cooler, and I'm likely to be being more consistent with bird food: Yet we are still lower in numbers of Blackbirds, Starlings, Robins and Sparrows. I have currently not got any Great Tits, yet Blue Tits are seemingly alright.

I suspect that Corvids are less affected, I've seen Carrion Crows, and Jackdaws and Magpies recently.

Is there a countrywide trend?

 Philip 27 Nov 2022
In reply to veteye:

Definite decline in mine.

I do the BTO garden birdwatch, which involves a weekly submission of max numbers.

It has been very mild, so I haven't had as much food out, but I don't think that's the only reason.

In reply to veteye:

There is something like a quarter of UK birds now on the Red List. Increasing numbers going onto the Red and Amber list.

House Sparrows which I always thought were so common as they have always been the most frequent visitors to my garden for many years are on the list. This year though I noticed a lack of House Sparrows; only a pair for first four or so months and then a max of six until after chicks left nest.

OP veteye 27 Nov 2022
In reply to Philip:

I had hoped that there could be some fluctuation in numbers around a mean, and that I might be imagining things. Sadly your response, and my own objectivity tend to reduce the chances of that. I am worried that numbers may just continue to decline, and not recover.

OP veteye 27 Nov 2022
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Thank you for the link.

I usually get about a dozen house sparrows in my brambles, but this year it was more like 8-10, but it has not reduced further. Whilst I have about 4-5 Dunnocks which is probably about the same number.

 Dave the Rave 27 Nov 2022
In reply to veteye:

Now you come to mention it, I haven’t seen a bird in the garden for a bit. We had loads of blackbirds pre heatwave, and I watered the lawn for them. Saw them after too, but not since. Lots of wood pigeon and corvids about. A male sparrow hawk flew past the house this morning.

Scared lots of birds from the heather this evening on Moel Famau. They were perhaps thrush sized or a bit bigger and thrush like in shape. Redwing? They were at approx 1500 ft. 

Post edited at 22:50
 Phil1919 28 Nov 2022
In reply to veteye:

Yes, the corvids most notable here in Kendal. Anecdotally, I'm sure there are less than just year. Exactly why, who can be sure, but there is certainly very little land left to nature round and about, both in and out of the town.

In reply to Dave the Rave:

Thrush flocks - likely to be redwings (marginally smaller than song thrush) or fieldfares (same size as mistle thrush) or mixed flock of both.

In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Thinking about it, I don't remember any sparrows nesting in our eaves this year, and I'm not sure if there was any sparrow squabbling at 6 in the morning over this summer.

In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Although that webpage is titled UK, it seems to be about Wales, Wales, Wales.

Of course the rest of the UK is likely to be similar to Wales.

I've noticed significant reduction in Swifts (used to hear them loads screaming on summer evenings) and House Martins, it now seems much easier to see Sand Martins whereas it used to be the other way around.

Post edited at 07:53
In reply to Michael Hood:

Ah, maybe I picked a link not ideal; RSPB has similar, but different worded pages elsewhere depending on their publication audience. Certainly I did general reading months ago about the Red List and changes in the UK and found many that more or less say similar. The Red List will of course be the same. I couldn’t, and still can’t, unfortunately, find the link for one site I previously read and found easy to read and understand.

For those used to reading scientific type reports, however, this one has lots of detail for British birds, dated Dec 21. . Swifts and House Martins are mentioned in the Abstract.

Post edited at 08:55
In reply to Dave the Rave:

> Scared lots of birds from the heather this evening on Moel Famau. They were perhaps thrush sized or a bit bigger and thrush like in shape. Redwing? They were at approx 1500 ft. 

The flocks on hilltops seem more usually to be Fieldfare - they stop to feed on late bilberries while migrating further south / west. 

In reply to veteye:

Thoughts:  I’m not seeing much in my garden, but had loads last spring/summer. The last 12 months have seen good conditions for garden birds, which can suffer from extreme weather esp wet and cold. In fact, my hunch was that I have seen bigger numbers of small birds when I’ve been out birding. Starlings being a good example. I posted on here about comparatively big number of hen harrier fledglings. This could be for a few reasons, but the spring summer was good weather wise, and see no reason why this couldn’t benefit other (garden) species. It could be that the mild autumn hasn’t pushed them into our gardens. Hope this is the case  

Avain flu doesn’t seem to impact garden birds - sea birds and ducks/geese getting hammered though. 

 mountainbagger 28 Nov 2022
In reply to veteye:

They're all in the hedge in my front garden.

At least, this year it seemed that way. The noise! It was incredible, packed full of birds, a cheerful cacophony. Don't know why they love it so much...and I've got a cat (who's thankfully pretty useless at catching anything)!

Myself and a couple of neighbours have fairly big hedges/brambles/holly/ivy conglomerates but otherwise most others have devoted every inch to car parking.

Someone's got a pond though I reckon as I often see a heron perched atop their roof.

Maybe there's a decline generally but not in my hedge!

OP veteye 28 Nov 2022
In reply to mountainbagger:

I back onto a field, and hence the Corvids arriving. Between me and the field is an untidy overgrowth of a mix of Buddleia, and many other shrubs and a tall self seeded mountain ash, small cherry tree. Then a mix of similar nature at right angles to that, ending in brambles near to the house (I don't need to go out to pick blackberries) where some of the sparrows etc hide. All with an admixture of ivy (which I actually hate). Across the way, an apple tree and two small pear trees, and an old dead Cherry tree.

So no car parking out back for me, and no gardening to call anything. So normally appreciated by the birds (including an occasional pheasant, and slightly more infrequent Mallards).

In reply to veteye:

Update: I’m off work at the moment so sat watching garden birds. Don’t normally get a huge amount, but saw great, blue and coal tits, lots blackbirds, fighting robins. So business as usual.

ALSO: waxwings are arriving in bigger than normal numbers. Mainly in the north east, but as usual they like urban areas so get checking those Rowan trees. 

OP veteye 29 Nov 2022
In reply to Bottom Clinger:

Once saw about 200 Waxwings in one modest bush/tree near the filling station between Dunkeld/Bingham right next to the road. They obviously thought that they would have a better party in Scotland than Scandinavia.

In reply to veteye:

We have hundreds and hundreds, lots of variety. Plenty of finches. England/Wales border. 

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