The miss­ing black­birds

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

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

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