The missing blackbirds
Happy New Year! Right let’s start with a few queries I have had in the last few weeks. The first is .... where are all the blackbirds this autumn and winter in the gardens and local parks?
Well they didn’t turn up from the continent this autumn is the simple answer – the winds were predominantly westerly and the number of blackbirds recorded down the east coast of England and the south east were very low. The figure for the number of blackbirds in this country is around 6 to 7 million birds, but we are supplemented by millions from the continent depending on the weather, so we just have not had the ‘continental’ blackbirds this autumn and winter.
I have only had one female blackbird in the garden eating the apples this autumn, when usually I have two or three.
This is mirrored all across Britain.
As I have mentioned before in this column, many of the familiar bird species like the blackbird, robin, woodpigeon, and goldfinch are supplemented by large numbers from Europe and we just didn’t get the right weather to encourage them across the English Channel or North Sea.
However, telling ‘British’ blackbirds from continental ones is tricky just by looking at them on the lawn or feeding in your garden and the variation tends to be ‘clinal’ i.e. blackbirds get bigger and fatter as you move east through Europe, but that means you have to catch them and measure the bird’s wing to find out suggest an origin of the bird.
For more information contact Owen Leyshon, Romney Marsh Countryside Partnership, telephone 01797 367934 or log on to www.rmcp.co.uk