03/02/2006
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Thousands of eyes

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Hawfinch: Wyre Forest, Worcs (photo: John Robinson).

The RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch, now in its 27th year, gives everyone a good excuse to sit down for an hour and enjoy their garden birds. It's always been a popular event, but nothing has prepared us for the amazing response so far this year. In just six days, we've had 120,000 web forms - that's over four million birds seen! We've also had around 90,000 paper forms too.

We're mainly collecting information on commonly seen garden birds. However, as you might expect, with so many pairs of eyes watching, some slightly rarer birds are being seen. There have been more records of Little Egrets and Red Kites as the fortunes of these birds change. Only a few Waxwings though - compared with such high numbers last January. Several emails mentioned garden Hawfinches in what must be perhaps the best influx of these birds ever. Slightly more unusual are things like Dipper, Water Rail and Woodcock. But then, our gardens can be very varied!

Black-throated Thrush: Swansea, Glamorgan (photo: Paul Bowden).

Black-throated Thrush: Swansea, Glamorgan (photo: Garth Clarke). Black-throated Thrush: Swansea, Glamorgan (photo: Steve Morgan).

But what about real rarities? We've had Yellow-browed Warbler and Pallas's Warbler in the past (2004), but what happened this year? Well it was great to hear that the popular Glamorgan Black-throated Thrush performed in a garden watched for the survey. Not a bird on the general form you understand, but I received an email explaining that it had appeared several times during the hour. Next was a call from Nick Roe who managed to identify a Common Rosefinch in his Sheffield garden! Although he had seen the bird fleetingly earlier, it was not until his birdwatch with his daughter Grace (a Wildlife Explorer member) that he got a good look and worked out what it was. Contacting the Sheffield Bird Study Group, the news was put out for others to enjoy.

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Common Rosefinch: Sheffield, S. Yorks (photo: Nick Roe).

Amazing! Makes you wonder what else is out there!

Many thanks for all those who joined in with the world's biggest celebration of birds.

To find the webform to submit your results, please visit: http://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.

Written by: Richard Bashford, RSPB