Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Sitka Siskins

Well, 13 weeks of the Garden Bird Survey fairly flew past, I suppose it really is spring now!

Male Siskin (c.OOS)

As is usual, the completed forms arrive promptly: 110 returns posted in to BirdWatch Ireland HQ within a few days of the closing week.

This is really useful, though I already know all about what turned up in my garden: podium toppers were the Goldfinches, but a pretty average winter for most of the other finch species and winter thrushes were never really pressed into gardens, through either hard weather or lack of feeding opportunities in the wider countryside.

A fairly obvious absence, partial in our case, was that of Siskins.  They did arrive in very small numbers in mid January, no more than six birds on one day, thereafter a single bird on three occasions.

Female Siskin (c.oos)

The BTO has posted that a near record crop of seed cones on Sitka Spruce trees was sustaining Siskins throughout the winter, thereby reducing their need to visit gardens for supplementary feeding on peanut feeders.. On checking a few of our local conifer forests, I did hear and see big flocks of Siskins, so the UK position seems to hold true for us here in Wicklow: lots of spruce cones still dangling from tree and Siskins making 'music' around them.

So, what has the initial flush of GBS data told me: well, from a random selection of 100 completed forms I found that Siskins occurred in 27% of Gardens surveyed: this compares with a final tally for last winter of 54% and the previous winter, 64%.. 

If all else fails: we'll be around! (c.OOS)

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