It is interesting to read that lots of folk have been contacting the RSPB and other wildlife organisations, as well as writing to the newspapers, to express their concern about the dearth of birds in their gardens at the moment. Of course, there are always genuine concerns about bird populations, and it’s good to know that people are interested enough to spot unexpected changes and shifts.
The latest depressing story I have read is about Barn Owls, which seem to have taken a real hammering from a combination of wet summers, cold winters and the very late spring this year – maybe only 1000 pairs remain in Britain. That really is alarming, and it will take at least two years of ‘normal’ weather to allow populations to recover. It makes me realise how lucky I was in the summer to have a Barn Owl as a ‘neighbour’ at our cottage in Norfolk, although we only discovered him a couple of nights before we were due to come home.
However, the wider picture as regards garden birds seems not to be a major cause for concern – quite the opposite. Birds are not coming into our gardens because the mild weather means they have been able to stay out in the fields and woods and hedges (whence come most of our ‘garden’ birds) eating wild food, and not yet needing to come after the food provided by humans. Doubtless, when the weather turns colder, and natural food sources run low, they will be there on our feeders and bird tables once again. That said, I have already seen a Blackcap (almost certainly a visitor from the Continent) and a Goldcrest in the garden, along with the more regular visitors.
The weather has been truly foul over the past 48 hours – still mild, but persistently wet. Much needed rain perhaps, after the fairly dry autumn, but miserable nevertheless.