Buckinghamshire Bird Club - Garden Bird Survey
The survey began 1986, over 26 years ago and over the years has provided a wealth of information on the bird numbers, feeding habits and behaviour patterns of Buckinghamshire’s garden birds. Both novice bird watchers and experienced birders can, and do, take part in the survey to produce a long term picture of bird activity in the county’s gardens. The records gathered have provided information on the numbers of birds and the range of species visiting and making use of the artificial food and water we supply, in addition to providing species trends over more than 25 years. To date well over 100 different species have been recorded, with individual gardens reporting anything between 2 and 40 species during each nine week survey period; typical species numbers reported per garden is between 16 & 30. Many of the trends follow the pattern of the BTO national garden bird survey, but ours is focused on Buckinghamshire and the data does in fact show some differences from the national picture. Surely no national survey can show that Red Kite visit 28% of the local gardens covered and that they receive artificial food in 72% of these gardens in mid winter. The first Red Kite garden record was in 2002, eleven years ago. The first reported Ring-necked Parakeets visiting Bucks gardens was reported in 1992 and although they are still confined to the south of the county they are now reported visiting 6% of gardens.
Other trends tend to follow national surveys with Wood Pigeons becoming established as the number one garden bird, the only species that has visited every garden in each of the three survey periods of 2012. Blue Tit was second, missing out on one garden in the first survey period. The visiting finch family have shown some significant changes over the years, (see chart), Goldfinches have become a very common garden bird while Greenfinches have followed the national trend downwards, although our plot shows that this fall may have slowed in the last two years., while Chaffinch seem to be falling away from being a guaranteed winter species visiting all gardens.
The GBS is divided into three periods running from early October through until the end of March and notes are kept of birds feeding on natural foods or on the foods we provide for them over the winter. A record is also made of the use of water over this period. From the data gathered a report is provided at the completion of each period to all participating members with a complete record of species recorded as a percentage of gardens visited, feeding habits and reliance on water provided. Also included are trend plots similar to the finch plot above in this article. Copies of the reports are available, on request, to all Buckinghamshire Bird Club members, preferably by e-mail to minimise costs to the Club.
Should you wish to take part in the survey please either email John Gearing at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 01296 748245 and you will be provided with further details of this worthwhile survey.