The mild winter was followed by a good breeding season, boosting garden sightings of finches and tits
Damian CarringtonEnvironment editor
Wed 28 Mar 2018 06.01 BSTLast modified on Wed 28 Mar 2018 08.07 BST
Finches and tits have enjoyed a golden year, according to the results of this year’s RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.
These small bird species suffer particularly badly in cold weather but in the past year benefited from a mild start to the winter that followed a good breeding season. Blackbird sightings in gardens were down – the result of plentiful food elsewhere – but a dearth of robins followed a poor nesting season.
The 39th annual Big Garden Birdwatch took place over the last weekend in January and more than 420,000 people took part, reporting a total of nearly 7 million birds. The event took place before the freezing weather dubbed the “Beast from East” arrived and the storm’s impact will not be known until later in the year after breeding number surveys are completed.
However, the extreme cold is likely to have caused deaths in some populations, at least locally. The icy weather did bring some birds into the UK, with redwings and fieldfares arriving in large numbers, seeking to escape the even harsher weather to the east.