Friday, 15 January 2016

BTO: Goldfinch feeding survey

Goldfinches by Paul Newton
Goldfinches by Paul Newton.

"Like you, we love watching Goldfinches. You tell us that these charming birds are an increasingly familiar sight in your gardens, and we want to find out exactly what it is about our gardens that Goldfinches need.”

Why do we need a survey?

With 70% more Garden BirdWatch participants reporting Goldfinches now than 20 years ago, it’s apparent that they are far more common in our gardens than they used to be, but we don't fully understand the reasons for this. How important is the food we put out or which plants we grow? Do they truly prefer nyger seed or is sunflower seed their choice treat? We need your help to find out the answers!
Using your counts we will investigate the factors behind the increase of Goldfinches and uncover their feeding habits. Understanding how birds use the resources in our gardens means that we can provide for them when times are hard.

What can you do?

We want you to spend two minutes watching the Goldfinches in your garden, and tell us how many you see and what they are feeding on. We are also interested in how their feeding behaviour changes throughout the winter so if you regularly get Goldfinches you can help us by reporting more than once.   
Please have a look at our FAQ page if you have any questions


The Goldfinch Feeding Survey is running between November 2015 and February 2016 inclusive. You do not need to provide bird food to take part in this survey.
This survey will support new research being undertaken by BTO Research Ecologist Kate Plummer, to investigate whether the increasing use of garden bird foods by Goldfinches is helping their national population to grow. Kate and other BTO scientists recently showed that supplementary feeding has affected the migratory behaviour of wintering Blackcaps in the UK.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Top 10 Plants for a Wildlife Garden

Here is an extract from BBC Nature's Features, on how to help wildlife in your garden. Helen Bostock, wildlife garden expert from the Royal Horticultural Society, gives us her top ten flowers, herbs, shrubs & trees to plant to attract & provide for wildlife...

There is some debate between experts over whether native plant species are better for our wildlife and a study is currently underway at the Royal Horticultural Society's Wisley garden in Surrey to determine which bugs like best.
Helen Bostock is a RHS wildlife gardening specialist who runs the Plants for Bugs project and has researched the most frequently recommended plants to attract the birds, bees, butterflies and more.
Her top ten plants every wildlife gardener should consider for their patch are: sunflowers, foxgloves, thyme, lavender, honeysuckle, rowan, ice plant, firethorn, barberry and purple loosestrife...

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Planning Ahead of Myself

A few weeks ago, in my excitement at the thought of finally having a garden of our own, I drew up an initial plan for its potential layout in my 'Little Red Book'. I kept it simple, & only included the main features. Not having any proper photos of the space, I based the design on my memory of the garden's existing permanent 'features' (trees & shed) with help from a tiny blurry image on Google Maps satellite view! I will continue to use the 'Little Red Book' going forward for any planning, ideas or designs for the house & garden, so I always have all the info I need in one place.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Love Your Wild Garden

On ITV at 8.00pm tonight there is a one-off wildlife garden special of Love Your Garden with Alan Titchmarsh, as part of Wild Britain 2015.

Love Your Wild Garden with Alan Titchmarsh (photo ITV)

ITV says: "In a special wild episode of Love Your Garden, Alan Titchmarsh and his team are at Keech Hospice in Luton creating a state of the art wildlife garden that is modern in style."

Monday, 17 August 2015

Increasing Diversity of Life, The Cambrian Way

So, in the next few weeks we will be leaving our first family home, a first floor flat in Valley Green, Woodhall Farm, to move to our first owned house, with a garden, on Cambrian Way, Highfield.

The locality names paint a picture of a rural setting, but I'm in fact talking about the town of Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. With a population of over 90,000 it is one of the most highly populated towns in Herts, & part of the Greater London Urban Area.

As towns go, we are lucky that even the most developed areas are green, the roads lined with trees, & neigbourhoods scattered with small parks, woods & wild areas of 'waste' ground - all great for supporting urban wildlife. But, the habitats with by far the greatest potential for supporting a myriad of species are much closer to home, right on our doorstep in fact... our gardens.