Robin recorded in every garden during RSPB big bird watch

Robin, the only bird to be recorded in every garden in the survey. Photo Brian Couper

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Bird Notes by Jim Cassels

The last weekend in January 2022 was the weekend of the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch.

This was the 43rd 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 26 sets of Arran results sent to me, compared to 35 last year and 22 the year before.

The weather that weekend was dominated by two named storms one on the Saturday followed by one on the Sunday.

This was obviously commented on by participants and some people stated that they had not taken part because of the stormy conditions in their gardens with feeders getting blown down.


While several gardens reported 12 or more species, one household recorded only one. Two gardens recorded more than 200 birds in their allocated hour.

In total, 32 species were reported which is one more than last year.

The following species were recorded this year but not last year, brambling, grey heron, grey wagtail, lesser redpoll and yellowhammer.

The last time yellowhammer was recorded in a garden during the RSPB survey was 2017, for lesser redpoll it was 2016 and brambling has never been recorded.

This year brambling was recorded in four of the survey gardens. Comparing species that were seen in both years, siskin went from being recorded in two per cent of gardens last year to 34 per cent this year and similarly goldfinch went from being recorded in 25 per cent of gardens last year to 61 per cent this year.

On the other hand, dunnock decreased from 82 per cent last year to 61 per cent this year

This year robin was the only bird to be reported in every garden, while chaffinch had the largest total of birds, namely 359.

House sparrow had the second largest total, 286 and starling the third largest total, 107.

Top 10 Arran garden birds in 2022

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, blue tit, great tit, house sparrow, coal tit, blackbird, goldfinch, dunnock and collared dove.

Goldfinch replaces crow from the top 10 for last year.

The first seven of these species have been in the top 10 in slightly different orders for the last 10 years.

For a collation of all the Arran data from the Big Garden Birdwatch for the last five years visit the webpage at http://www.arranbirding.co.uk/files/ArranRSPBBigGardenBirdWatch2022.pdf

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 enjoy your garden birds, there is a survey that you can join that encourages people to record their garden bird sightings every week of the year. It is called the British Trust for Ornithology Garden BirdWatch (GBW). To find out more about the BTO Garden BirdWatch visit the website https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/gbw

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 e mail me at jim@arranbirding.co.uk I look forward to hearing from you. For more information on birding on Arran purchase the Arran Bird Report 2020 and the Arran Bird Report, the first 40 years. Plus visit the website http://www.arranbirding.co.uk/index.html