During the months October 2001 to March 2002 visitors to the Montrose Basin Wildlife Centre were given the opportunity to take part in a Garden Bird Survey. They were given forms listing the most common garden bird species and asked to record the occurrence of each species in each month of the survey.
These participants have now submitted their forms and the analysis of the results show the following for the Montrose area in order of most frequent sightings.
So the "robin redbreast" is the most frequent winter visitor to Montrose gardens followed closely by the blackbird. This is hardly surprising as when these species set up a winter feeding territory they defend it against all-comers and therefore are very visible and vocal in their defence.
Less obvious as a member of the "top ten" visitors to our gardens is the collared dove, whose rapid expansion in the UK from a first breeding bird in 1950's, has been meteoric, to say the least. Other birds are not faring so well, so it is good to see house sparrow so high on the list. All over the UK the humble and once ubiquitous "spuggie" is disappearing from the landscape and people in Angus, have told me that they don't see house sparrow at all in their gardens where they were common only a few years ago.
Of course some gardens are more attractive to birds than others and those providing berries, seed, peanuts and water can expect most visitors. The most visited garden was in Northwaterbridge where 31 different species were recorded, followed closely by a St Cyrus garden and a Hillside garden with 28 species each.
For both the beginner and expert birdwatcher, taking time out to watch and record the birds in your garden is a special experience and one guaranteed to lower your stress levels. Forms for the 2002/03 season will be available from September from the Wildlife Centre and it is hoped that more people will take part and the trends in bird populations and habits around Montrose can be tracked over time.