A mild summer last year has led to a surge in the numbers of goldfinches spotted by amateur birdwatchers in Britain’s gardens, the RSPB said.
Sightings of goldfinches – distinctive for their bright red faces and yellow wing patches – were up 11 per cent on last year.
Researchers said that the warm summer led to a successful breeding season for the birds, swelling their numbers.
A mild autumn and winter made finding food easier than it would be in frosty conditions.
The warmer temperatures helped many more goldfinches to survive the winter.
Sightings of goldfinches – distinctive for their bright red faces and yellow wing patches – were up 11 per cent on last year
Other birds that also thrived this past year are long-tailed tits – with sightings up 16 per cent, coal tits up 15 per cent and blue tits up 5 per cent.
More than 420,000 people across the country took part in the conservation charity’s Big Garden Birdwatch in the last weekend of January, recording 6.7 million birds visiting their gardens or local park.
There was also a 5 per cent rise in sightings of greenfinches, which was welcomed by conservationists as the birds have suffered a 58 per cent decline since the survey began in 1979.
But not all birds thrived.
There was a fall in records of blackbirds, with sightings down 18 per cent and robins, which were down 12 per cent compared to last year.
Wren sightings were also down, by 11 per cent, the results from the survey revealed.
The milder winter can mean birds are less reliant on garden feeders because there is more food in the wider countryside, with potentially fewer birds visiting gardens as a result.
However, the RSPB said robins and wrens did not have a good breeding year last year, unlike tits and finches, and their numbers may be down overall.
RSPB conservation scientist Daniel Hayhow said: ‘Last summer was a really good year for many breeding birds with warm weather creating great conditions for many smaller birds to raise their young to adulthood.
But not all birds thrived, as there was a fall in records of robins, which were down 12 per cent compared to last year
‘The rise in sightings of goldfinch, long-tailed tit and coal tit, along with chaffinches and greenfinches, goes to show that in the absence of cold weather they can survive the winter months in good numbers.
‘Looking at the results, it is likely that across the UK this is what people are seeing in their garden.’
He said people will have noticed the weather this winter – before the beast from the east and other snowy, cold storms blew in – was slightly warmer than usual and garden birds will have felt that too.
He added: ‘It’s usual for there to be more food available in the wider countryside during a mild winter meaning birds are less reliant on the treats we put out on the garden feeders.
‘However, unlike the finches and tits, robins and wrens did not have a good breeding season in 2017 and data from other surveys indicate that their numbers may be down overall this year.’
The birdwatch took place before the ‘beast from the east’ and Storm Emma arrived, and the impact of the freezing weather will not be known until after breeding number surveys are done later in the year.
The house sparrow was once again the most commonly seen bird in the survey, with starlings in second place again, though both birds have seen long-term declines in numbers seen per garden, since the survey began.