Have you got one hour to spare at the end of this month? You can do something great for wildlife!
The depths of winter are ideal to see which birds are out and about as there is little in the way of cover and food is scarce. Those of you who have filled your feeders will have some idea of who is around, and may even be familiar with the daily routines of the birds occupying your patch.
Feeders and routines are extremely useful for The Big Garden Bird Watch, which is nearly upon as once again. This annual event is organised by the RSPB in order to build a picture of garden wildlife across the UK. From this it is possible to observe changes and trends – increases, declines or stable populations as well as the impact of mild, wet or cold winters or any such combination. In 2016 an incredible 8,262,662 birds were recorded with the House Sparrow taking poll position. Moreover, a good range of our smallest feathered friends was recorded with the appealing Long-tailed Tit (a tiny feathery ball with a disproportionally long tail) fluttering in at number ten. There were many more sightings than usual of the diminutive Goldcrestt (ridiculously tiny with a striking yellow and black stripe along the forehead), which along with the Firecrest is our smallest bird. This increase was attributed to the mild weather as many or our smallest birds perish in the cold. Our all-time garden favourite, the Robin, maintained a perch at number nine.
This event is held from the 28th – 30th January and it takes just one hour of your time. It is entirely simple to participate and can be carried out from any area with a good vantage point – be it from the kitchen window, a comfortable seat indoors with a bird’s-eye view of a feeding area, or, for those without gardens, from a park or public gardens. The Big Garden Bird Watch is open to all – fair-weather birders, twitchers and serious recorders.
Within these dates take one hour to record all species seen, and count the maximum number of each species seen at any one time in order to ensure no double-counting of individual birds. A counting sheet is available on the RSPB website along with clear instructions - click here to download your pack. Results can either be entered on line or posted in.
The Big Garden Bird Watch is like nothing else on this planet – no other country has national counts embracing all and sundry such as this. Make your count count!