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The winter survey period has just finished, and the first completed recording forms are beginning to arrive: as of today (5 April) just over 40 have come, and inputting the results has also started. As usual the results will be published with LBN in due course. In addition to the regular weekly recording of the species seen, this winter contributors were invited to provide their impressions of how it compared with earlier surveys, and what they had most enjoyed. Below is a flavour of some of the views from those who have responded so far:

How did this winter compare with, say, the last 5 winters? Is the number of species using your garden increasing or decreasing?

Lack of winter thrushes; sparrows on my list a bit thin but are being fed by my next door neighbour and seem to prefer his feeding station..
House sparrow numbers down but I can see them feeding in other gardens. 2 close neighbours now feed birds.
No apparent major changes: mild winter probably reduced numbers..
Numbers decreasing; sparrowhawk frightening the birds on the bird table - sadly.
Plenty of our more common birds - no winter migrants such as siskin - have noted this over the last few years.
Species still decreasing.
Reduced number of greenfinches, although numbers were also low 2006/07.
Bad start of survey for greenfinches but they had recovered by end of winter.
Sparrowhawk, greenfinch, house sparrow, starlings, all down by more than 50%..
Greenfinch numbers certainly down.
Steep decline in numbers of greenfinches and great tits over recent years. Goldfinches a welcome addition to the garden in last two years.
A rather typical survey period with similar numbers of species and birds to last year. Good to see a marginal improvement for greenfinch and chaffinch after the fall in numbers last year.
House sparrow and greenfinch have declined significantly. Number of species increasingly slightly.
Seem to have lost the tree sparrows. Starlings much commoner this winter.
Starlings are down by approx 50%. Tits are fewer than last year. Pigeon and dove numbers are up.
Fewer house sparrows and greenfinches this year but a good range of species with lesser redpolls (taking nyger) in eight weeks and a female brambling (taking mixed seed on the ground.
Blackbird nos. low despite good nos. in countryside - presumably plenty of food there did not necessitate a move into gardens (max no in 2003/04 was 21: 2227/08 - 6!).

Do you put out any special foods, and if so, what do they attract?

We took a large Pyracanthus bush out and put up a bird feeder with nuts and seeds as compensation. The birds have totally ignored this feeder in the 4 weeks it has been up!
Sunflower seeds very popular with finches, tits, sparrows.
As well as food, found bird-baths a big attraction (I have 4).
Large food, eg bread, only used occasionally - attracted larger birds.
Do not feed at all for last 5-6 years because of large build-up of starlings, house sparrows and in particular collared doves who tend to keep smaller species away more and more.
Pinhead oatmeal good for blackbirds.
I use bird seed with little or no corn, mixed with peanut nibs (corn attracts too many pigeons from nearby fields).

What birds do you particularly enjoy seeing?

Enjoy seeing the goldfinches..
I enjoy seeing the goldfinches, and the long-tailed tits if I'm lucky enough to notice as they pass through fairly quickly.
Favourites: long-tailed tits and siskin.
Pheasant sleeps in the tree every night.
A 'white-headed' blackbird has been with us all season..
Enjoy goldfinches, wren and sparrowhawk.
Goshawk high over garden (didn't count it) mobbed by rooks and jackdaws.
Favourite birds - blue tit and great tit
I get particular enjoyment from watching tree sparrows which feed, for the most part, on wild bird seed.

What was your 'Bird of the Year'?

Cattle egret from kitchen window - not bad!
THE bird of the year was a barn owl.
Barn owl is always bird of the year, blackcap and chiffchaff a good second.
Great spotted woodpecker the highlight! (I live approx 400m from town centre.)
I enjoy them all. I suppose the male spotted woodpecker has to be Bird of the Year.
Thrilled by great spotted woodpecker.
Best bird great spotted woodpecker - usually only flying over
Grey wagtail - first record.
Particularly enjoy robins and they would be my Bird of the Year!
Song thrush appears each spring and is a rare, welcome, visitor.
The day after the survey finished - a gorgeous male brambling..
Bird of the Year would have to be the stunning male brambling.
Bird of the Year - Siskin.

More to follow when all the results are in. If you took part last winter and haven't sent your recording sheet in yet, please do so. Also, if you have a recording sheet from any previous summer or winter which you've never submitted, again, please do so. The records are extremely valuable in monitoring ups and downs of our common species. All LBC members receive a recording form each year automatically, as does any non-member who took part in the previous year. However, if you are a non-member who would like to take part, we would love to have your records. Please download a form from this site, or contact the Membership Secretary, Mike Harrison michael@michaelharrison1.wanadoo.co.uk for a paper copy. Same applies if you have a friend or neighbour who might enjoy taking part. The more the better!

Anne Goodall

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