Even in my small urban garden, I’ve seen a remarkable range of wildlife.
My list of garden birds has 15 different species, though some are seen from the garden rather than in it. A regular garden sighting is the diminutive wren. This tiny bird, weighing only about 10g, scampers about like a mouse before disappearing into the dense cover of ivy.
The wren is one of the most common breeding birds in the UK, with over 8million pairs breeding annually. Because they are so small, they are vulnerable in harsh, cold winters. In the winter of 1962/1963, for example, British Trust for Ornithology data showed that the wren population declined by as much as 80 per cent. In theory, over the long term, they can bounce back thanks to their ability to have large numbers of young. But in Lincolnshire gardens, after years of relatively stable numbers, wrens have shown a steady decline. From 2003-2007, wrens were recorded nesting from around 20 per cent of gardens each year, but since then this figure has dropped steadily to less than 10 per cent.
The Lincolnshire Garden Bird Survey has revealed that it’s not just wrens that are declining in our gardens. Greenfinch, pied wagtail, turtle dove, spotted flycatcher, song thrush, mistle thrush, starling and house sparrow have all declined.
Gardens make up around 4 per cent of land area in the UK and they play an important role for birds and other wildlife.
The Lincolnshire Garden Bird Survey shows just how important gardens can be. The use of gardens by yellowhammers peaks in April and May, the time when food is scarce in the wider countryside. The winter food sources are running low and it’s before the seeds of trees and flowers are available, so yellowhammers move from arable land into gardens looking for food.
This pattern of behaviour is also seen in other seed eaters such as bullfinch and reed bunting.
An online version of the Lincolnshire Garden Bird Survey has just been developed and it is hoped more people will get involved. It’s a simple survey and by taking part in the survey, participants can contribute to a better understanding of our garden birds and what measures need to be taken to help them in the future.
Please visit http://record.glnp.org.uk and take part.