A bird's eye view for the Belgians
Natuurpunt, and its Walloon counterpart Natagora, sent the Belgians flocking into their gardens on 3 and 4 February, to keep up the annual bird-counting tradition. Apparently there was a massive response to the request from these nature associations.
The results are quite startling. Tens of thousands of compatriots took part in this great bird-counting weekend: Grote Vogelweekend/Devine qui vient manger au jardin. Almost one million birds came to feast in thousands of gardens across the country. It was a hive of activity around Belgian bird tables, which required regular replenishing.
Although the regional picture varies, certain aspects are quite consistent in the north and south of the country. The great tit was most commonly counted, both in Flanders and in Wallonia. On the other hand it appears that the usutu virus has hit the blackbird population harder in Flanders than in Wallonia, where blackbirds even won the silver medal. In Flanders the house sparrow moved down to second place in 2018, having come first last year. Third position is held respectively by the chaffinch and robin. Woodland birds are doing wonderfully in Wallonia this year.
It seems that flocks of some less common seed eaters have flown south to West Europe this winter. Namely the hawfinch or the redpoll, recognised by its red chest and striped belly. The latter is particularly keen on an undeveloped corner of the garden.
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