Survey finds the top 10 garden birds on Arran

Robin seen in all except one garden.

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Bird Notes by Jim Cassels

The last weekend in January 2021 was the weekend of the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch. This was the 42nd year of this event.

Households not only took part in this survey of garden birds but some shared their results with me. This year there were 35 sets of Arran results sent to me, compared to 22 last year. This equals the highest ever total in the 11 years that I have done this.

While several gardens reported 15 or more species, one household recorded one. In total 31 species were reported which is four fewer than last year. The following species were recorded last year but not this year fieldfare, great spotted woodpecker, grey heron, lesser redpoll, mistle thrush and redwing.

However, this year three gardens reported blackcap – none were reported last year. In addition for the first time ever a nuthatch was recorded in an Arran garden during the RSPB count.

Comparing species that were seen in both years, siskin went from being recorded in 45 per cent of gardens in 2020 to two per cent this year and similarly goldfinch went from being recorded in 50 per cent of gardens in 2020 to 25 per cent this year.

On the other hand, crows (carrion and hooded) increased from being recorded in 22 per cent of gardens in 2020 to 34 per cent this year.

This year robin was reported in every garden except one in the survey, while chaffinch had the largest total of birds, namely 328. House sparrow had the second largest total, 272 and coal tit the third largest total, 109.

From the collation from all the gardens, the top 10 birds this year in terms of the number of gardens in which they were seen are: robin, chaffinch, blackbird, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, house sparrow, dunnock, collared dove and crow (carrion and hooded).

Crow replaces goldfinch from the top 10 for 2020. The first eight of these species have been in the top 10 in slightly different orders for the last seven years.

For a collation of all the Arran data from the Big Garden Birdwatch for the last five years visit this webpage

While this information is interesting, too much should not be read into these small samples. It is a fun survey to do but it only covers one weekend in the year.

If you enjoyed doing it, there is a garden bird watch that you can join that encourages people to record their garden bird sightings every week of the year, the British Trust for Ornithology Garden BirdWatch (GBW).

To find out more about the BTO Garden BirdWatch visit the website

Enjoy your birding and keep safe.

Please send any bird notes with ‘what, when, where’ to me at Kilpatrick Kennels, Kilpatrick, Blackwaterfoot, KA27 8EY, or email me at I look forward to hearing from you. For more information on birding on Arran purchase the Arran Bird Report, the first 40 years, which includes the annual report for 2019 and visit this website