Special visitor turns up during RSPB Gardenwatch project

A waxwing
A waxwing

Scandanavian waxwings were the surprise visitors to the North East

These attractive looking birds flock to UK gardens in winter when the berry crop fails in their native counries and this year a rash of them were reported by people in the North East taking part in RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

A blackbird

A blackbird

The event held over the last weekend in January revealed an explosion in the number of recorded sightings of waxwings.

Blackbirds were the county’s most widespread garden bird after being spotted in 91% of Tyne and Wear gardens.

The survey also highlighted a downturn in the recorded sightings of blue tits (-12%) and great tits (-12%) on last year’s figures for Tyne and Wear.

There was also good news for robins, which climbed from number nine in 2016 to number eight this year in the rankings in Tyne and Wear.

Dr Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “The sight of a robin or blackbird perched on the garden fence is often one of the first experiences we have with nature.

“The numbers of small bodied birds such as blue tits and great tits are susceptible to changes in weather throughout the year, and scientists believe that the prolonged wet weather during the 2016 breeding season led to fewer younger birds surviving than usual, meaning there are fewer to be seen in gardens.”

Claire Thomas, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: “This year was another incredible year for the Big Garden Birdwatch. Our gardens can become an invaluable resource for birds. Troughout the year birds need food, water and a safe place to shelter. If we all provide these things in our outdoor spaces it will be a huge help to our garden birds, perhaps even playing a role in reversing some declines.”

For more information about the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results – rspb.org.uk/birdwatch