Harsh winter brings unusual birds


One watcher reported seeing a white-tailed eagle in her garden during the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch

UK gardens are playing host to a wide range of unusual birds, from dippers and little egrets to merlins and even a white tailed eagle, the first results from an annual survey have shown.

Initial findings of the Big Garden Birdwatch seem to support predictions that the harsh winter would be driving more unusual visitors into gardens to find food.

The RSPB, which runs the Big Garden Birdwatch, has already received 100,000 results for the wildlife survey – with 10,000 forms submitted in just one hour.

But the wildlife charity is urging people who took part and have not submitted their results to remember to do so.

According to the RSPB, people have already reported seeing dippers, goosanders, little egrets, snipe, cirl buntings and merlins in their gardens.

One woman even saw a white-tailed eagle in her Scottish garden, a species which was reintroduced in Scotland after being persecuted to extinction in the UK by the early 19th century.

Now the RSPB wants everybody that spent an hour counting birds in their gardens at the weekend to report their results.

Richard Bashford, RSPB Big Garden manager, said: “We really mean it when we say that every garden counts, and it doesn’t matter if you saw ten different birds species, one birds or none at all – it’s important that we know. Volunteer surveys like the Big Garden Birdwatch first alerted us to the decline in much-loved birds like house sparrows, song thrushes and starlings.

“These results can help shape the work we do, and the species and habitats we focus on. If you did take an hour out of your weekend, make sure it counts and send us your results.”

People have until February 18 to submit their results.

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