Chaffinch tops Borders garden poll

THE chaffinch has again topped the list of birds spotted in Borders gardens.

Record-breaking numbers of people took part in RSPB Scotland’s Big Garden Birdwatch earlier this year.

The charity’s Keith Morton said: “We were especially interested to see how our garden birds would have fared over the harsh winter. It is too early to know for sure – we’ll need to wait for further surveys later in the year – but it is encouraging to see an increase in sightings in many garden species, particularly the smaller birds.”

In the Borders 1,777 people took part in the birdwatch, out of a Scottish total of 45,000.

The charity found that far from vanishing in the winter cold, many small bird species were more visible which it said suggested a good breeding season this spring and good access to food and water in gardens during the winter.

And after last year’s birdwatch detected a drop, this year’s found smaller-bodied birds appear to have bounced back.

The most spotted bird nationally and locally was the chaffinch – spotted in over 90 per cent of Borders gardens in the survey. The second most seen locally was the house sparrow, followed by the blue tit, the blackbird, starling, great tit, robin, woodpigeon and in tenth place, the coal tit.

Nationally second and third place were occupied again by the house sparrow and starling, both recording a rise in sightings since last year. With a 27 per cent increase, blue tits leap-frogged blackbirds into fourth place.

Throughout Scotland long-tailed tit sightings almost doubled, while coal tit records rose by 17 per cent. Treecreeper sightings increased by 150 per cent on the previous year. Records of wrens, fell by 18 per cent.

The cold weather also brought with it some more unusual garden visitors. Species more commonly found in woods and farmland, such as brambling and lesser redpoll, were sighted in a number of gardens – presumably in search of food.

Mr Morton said: “We’re delighted that many people will have been rewarded with experiences of beautiful and unusual birds, such as the waxwing.

“Our advice is to keep feeding garden birds, particularly during the cold.”

For more information see www.rspb.org.uk.