News archive

October 2015

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Male blackcap in hawthorn bush

News from BTO

Garden feeding brings Blackcaps to the UK: New research using data collected by Garden BirdWatch volunteers has revealed that bird food provided in British gardens has helped Blackcaps to rapidly evolve a successful new migration route. This is the first time that garden bird feeding has been shown to affect large-scale bird distributions. The results from this study, led by BTO ecologist Kate Plummer, were published recently in the journal Global Change Biology and have been covered by BBC News and other media outlets around the world.

It is now possible to look at the results of the BTO Garden Bird Watch in a variety of ways. Over the last twenty years an astounding amount of data has been collected by thousands of volunteers participating in the BTO weekly Garden BirdWatch survey but until recently only a fraction of it was available online. Now, thanks to recent developments in technology, they have been able to present more of the results in new and interactive ways allowing you to explore in greater detail how gardens are used by birds and other wildlife. For example you can see a distribution map of house martin sightings in the UK over the past ten years. Take a look at the link and explore for yourself.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Celebrity sighting at Dungeness

Celebrity sighting at Dungeness

There was a celebrity sighting down on Dungeness point on 22nd September when an Acadian flycatcher arrived in Britain from North America. It's the first one ever to be seen in Britain! Hundreds of twitchers flocked to it but it did not hang about for too long, and hasn't been seen since.

The Acadian flycatcher is an excellent flier, able to hover and even fly backward. It has been observed bathing not by standing in water, but rather by diving into water from above, hitting the water with its chest, and then returning to a perch to preen and shake. The male defends his territory with a characteristic "peet-sah" song. It is a common host to the brood-parasitic brown-headed cowbird, which lays its eggs in other birds' nests. From the cowbird's perspective the Acadian flycatcher does not seem to be a particularly good host: only 16% of cowbird young in Acadian flycatcher nests fledged successfully.

Other birds seen at Dungeness last week include seven Egyptian geese, two black-necked grebe, cattle egret, five great white egret, bittern, peregrine, hobby and spoonbill.