There's just over a week to go until #BigGardenBirdwatch! So we thought we'd take a look at some familiar faces that topped the Big Garden Birdwatch charts here in the east last year, starting this week's countdown at number ten and finishing at number 6 - look out for the top five next week!
10. In at ten, it's the long-tailed tit - easily recognisable birds with distinctive colouring, long-tailed tits look like a ball on a stick with long tails and small bodies. Gregarious and noisy residents, long-tailed tits are most usually noticed in small, excitable flocks of about 20 birds. Greater numbers of long-tailed tits are surviving our milder winters, meaning the number of birds seen in our gardens in the region has increased by 128% in ten years.
9. Moving down one place from 2016 is the great tit - the largest UK tit; green and yellow with a striking glossy black head, white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song. It is a woodland bird which has readily adapted to man-made habitats to become a familiar garden visitor. It can be quite aggressive at a bird table, fighting off smaller tits. Changes in weather during breeding seasons can have a big impact on these small birds.
2016’s prolonged wet spell meant there were fewer caterpillars about for feeding their young. It’s likely that this led to fewer younger birds surviving than usual, meaning there were fewer seen in gardens -14% less great tits in fact!
8. Jumping two places from ten to eight is the robin - the UK's favourite bird - with its bright red breast it is familiar throughout the year and especially at Christmas! Males and females look identical. Young birds have no red breast and are spotted with golden brown. Robins were seen in 90% of the region's gardens last year.
7. Non-mover, the goldfinch, remained in seventh place in the charts - a highly coloured finch with a bright red face and yellow wing patch. Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a delightful liquid twittering song and call. Their long fine beaks allow them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels. Increasingly they are visiting bird tables and feeders – there’s been a 35% rise in the number of goldfinches visiting gardens in the east since 2007.
6. Coming in at number six, another non-mover, the collared dove - these pale, pinky-brown grey coloured birds, with a distinctive black neck collar (as the name suggests), have declined by 27% in the region since 2007. They have deep red eyes and reddish feet. Their monotonous cooing is a familiar sound to many and it’s easy to mistake them for a woodpigeons, however they are a lot smaller than a woodpigeon.
How will these birds fare this year? Sign up for Big Garden Birdwatch to let us know, and look out for last year's top five next week!
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