Watch the birdies

ONE of Britain's most colourful garden visitors has been named as the latest victor in a Norfolk compiled bird survey.

ONE of Britain's most colourful garden visitors has been named as the latest victor in a Norfolk compiled bird survey.

The goldfinch was the overwhelming winner in the British Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) 2009 Garden BirdWatch results.

The colourful species received a 78pc increase in sightings last year, according to the Thetford-based bird research organisation.

However, the latest survey results were not good news for all garden birds, which recorded a decline for the popular song thrush, starling, wren, greenfinch, and house sparrow.

Officials from the BTO are warning that some feathered friends may suffer a further decrease this year after one of the coldest winters in living memory.

Volunteer bird watchers recorded an unusually high percentage of goldfinches in their gardens last year compared to the long-term average for the last 13 years. Other species that experienced a productive year in 2009 was the long-tailed tit, woodpigeon, jackdaw, and the great spotted woodpecker.

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Dr Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch co-ordinator, said: “The use of gardens by goldfinches changed markedly throughout 2009. However, in the summer there was a particularly pronounced increase in their occurrence in gardens. This suggests that goldfinches had a productive breeding season and that juvenile goldfinches moved into gardens for an easy meal.”

“Remarkably, woodpigeons were recorded in a greater percentage of gardens than robins in the spring and summer of 2009. This is indicative of how the woodpigeon population has exploded in recent years. However, there are concerns about the status of other species such as the wren and greenfinch. Thankfully, thousands of BTO Garden BirdWatchers will monitor their fortunes closely over the coming year.”

The decline of the diminutive wren has been attributed to the relatively harsh winter of 2008/09 and the bird disease trichomonosis appears to be taking its toll on greenfinches.

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2009 Garden BirdWatch winners

Goldfinch +78pc

Long-tailed tit +30pc

Woodpigeon +26pc

Jackdaw + 19pc

Great Spotted Woodpecker +15pc

2009 losers

Song thrush -22pc

Wren -20pc

Starling -19pc

Greenfinch -16pc

House sparrow -15pc

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