Backwell Environment Trust

...15 years of conservation, protection, improvement...


For many years now, YACWAG (Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group) has been organising a Christmas bird survey, recording all the birds coming into their members’ gardens over the festive period. This year they continued the expansion of their survey into Backwell and Nailsea by enlisting the help of both BET and NEWT members.

The blackbird maintained its position as the bird seen in most gardens – 94 out of 102; the rest of the top ten were wood pigeon and robin (91), blue tit (80), great tit (73), magpie (71), house sparrow (68), dunnock (55), long-tailed tit (53) and goldfinch (52).

The number of species landed in gardens was 46, the additional species that flew over was 8, the species only heard was 1.                       

Trevor Riddle reports:

In 2008, the wood pigeon wasn't even in the top 10 gardens (where it landed) and nine years later it is second and almost first. Wood pigeons have overcome their shyness of humans and were seen in 90% of gardens. They may well out-compete collared doves, a species that has declined in abundance over a similar period, although collared doves seem to be more prone to predation by sparrowhawks.

Goldfinches go from strength to strength with a remarkable 457 recorded. But bullfinch may be the 'new goldfinch' - they are appearing in more gardens year on year and are a very popular visitor. It's good to see that greenfinches haven't declined further this year - they are still suffering from trichomoniasis disease. One lucky member recorded two bramblings  (eight just before the survey started) and just a single siskin was seen; they are in very low numbers this winter.

House sparrows are holding their own, but starling numbers continue to slide. Wintering blackcaps continue to increase whilst just a single chiffchaff was seen. A few favoured gardens are still visited by the (locally) scarce marsh tit. Other notable birds were two kingfisher records (from Congresbury) and just outside the survey period a garden woodcock in Backwell (23 December) and a fly over red kite at Cadbury Hill on 7 January.

There were more sparrowhawk sightings this year although there is no evidence of an increase in numbers locally.

Other wildlife reported by surveyors were squirrels (especially ‘stealing’ bird food), fox, rats and, of course, cats.  One surveyor recorded 27 visits per minute by various tits to a black sunflower feeder.

If anyone would like a copy of the full results please let me know.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Trevor Riddle and Win Lowman,  January 2018

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