Mild December sees our garden birds take flight

The RSPB's Amy Ryan at Belvoir Park forest in Belfast with a bird feeder.

The RSPB's Amy Ryan at Belvoir Park forest in Belfast with a bird feeder.


Even though some recent mornings may have felt a bit nippy, figures show the first half of December has been strikingly warm compared to normal.

And according to bird charity the RSPB, this has led to a spate of calls from householders wondering why there are so few birds frequenting their gardens.

Figures from the Met Office show the average overall temperature, from the start of the month to last Sunday, was 7.4 degrees Celsius for Northern Ireland – roughly three degrees warmer than usual.

On Monday, temperatures for the Province made a return to “almost bang-on average” according to Met Office forecaster Laura Young, and figures showed yesterday morning was fairly cold – however, the week ahead looks changeable.

In recent days, the RSPB had said it was receiving calls from members of the public “in their droves”, who were concerned about the lack of feathered wildlife in their gardens.

Amy Ryan, events officer with the charity, based in Belvoir Forest outside Belfast, said: “The unusually mild weather means there’s still lots of insects and berries out in the wider countryside, so garden birds aren’t venturing into peanut feeders at the moment.”

Going to a garden with other birds often leads to squabbles, she said – something the creatures would avoid if they had the option of dining elsewhere.

“A lot of our birds are territorial. They’ve got their own little patch out in the wider countryside,” she said.

“If (food) is on their doorstep, it’s easier than flying into Belfast city centre. They’ll venture into gardens as food becomes scarcer elsewhere.”

However, she warned householders not to be complacent, and to continue leaving out nuts and seeds for the birds for when conditions worsen.

Miss Young added temperatures in the days ahead will probably vary, with a maximum daytime reading of 9C-11C predicted for today, dropping to about 4C-5C tomorrow, before apparently rebounding again on Friday.

“We’ve still got a couple of weeks of the month left to go,” she said. “But the early indication is its going to stay quite mild.”

Along with that, she said, comes unsettled weather.

For instance, there is a “severe weather warning” – colour-coded yellow – in place from 4pm today until 6am tomorrow for the Province.

Miss Young said that powerful winds are expected in Antrim, Tyrone and Londonderry, with the potential for gusts to reach up to 70mph (but she added this is most likely to be confined to the Irish Sea).

The RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch will run from January 25 to 26, asking householders to log wildlife in their gardens.

For more information, visit rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.




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