Anyone challenged to write down the 10 commonest British birds will probably include greenfinch on their list. That would be correct but maybe not for much longer as the greenfinch suffers a catastrophic population crash.

Before 2000 there were about 1,700 pairs in Britain and most bird identification guides labelled them “common” or “abundant.” By 2008 the population slumped to 695,000 pairs and the downward spiral continues. Ask yourself when you last heard the once-familiar nasal “dzwee” of a greenfinch or saw one in your garden or local park.

A look back at my records reveals sightings in every month of 2004 with many of them local yet last year I saw greenfinches in only three months of the year. All those sightings were near the Kent coast.

Wild Things: Identifying your Orchids

Hardly a scientific comparison but look through any window of your house and you can see they have been replaced by goldfinches in the garden. James Lowen confirms this greenfinch decline in his annual Birdwatcher’s Yearbook article. Considering bird trends, he reports a fall in greenfinch numbers of almost two thirds in 23 years, according to the British Trust for Ornithology 2019 Breeding Bird survey. The main cause is a disease called trichomonosis. Greenfinches also lost much breeding habitat when Britain’s gardeners chopped down fast-growing conifers causing denial of light disputes with neighbours which often went to court.

Lowen’s informative article is always one of the Yearbook highlights and his 2021 effort is no exception.

The new 41st edition features ingredients which makes this book a must not only for birders but all wildlife enthusiasts. Checklists of birds, butterflies and dragonflies can be ticked monthly and daily sightings recorded in the diary section.

Wild Things: Another blow for local wildlife

Also included is an updated guide to 380 wildlife reserves, birding events diary, tide table information and contact details for almost everyone in wildlife from photographers to booksellers, optical dealers and holiday companies, local and national organisations plus research projects and wildlife hospitals.

The Birdwatcher’s Yearbook 2021, edited by Neil Gartshore, is published by Calluna Books.

Usual price £20 but News Shopper readers can purchase direct from Calluna at £18 via website at or by telephone 01929 552 560.