RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend – 27-28th January

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Although strictly not pets, many people are not able to have their own an animal. Whether this be because of housing restrictions or restraints on their time or finances there are other ways to enjoy animals.

For over 40 years, The RSPB have been holding an annual Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend. The aim is to study the increase or decline of the birds and other wildlife that visit our gardens across the UK.

Eight million birds were counted in 2018

Being the world’s largest wildlife survey, with around half a million people regularly taking part, it has been very popular. The data has been invaluable to the RSPB and getting the public’s help in providing their local statistics. In 2018, the general public counted 8 million birds up and down the UK.

Blue Peter and RSPB joined forces

40 years ago, Blue Peter and the RSPB joined forces to create the Big Garden Bird Watch. The goal, to encourage children to take an interest in wildlife and especially birds. The reason, to spur a love to help protect and preserve them.

I remember when I was a child; I would often see a song thrush rustling about in the leaves for snails or other grubs. Nowadays thrushes are a rarity to see, partly because pesticides affecting their food source. In addition, loss of hedgerows and natural habitats has contributed to Thrushes’ decline. On the other hand I can’t remember seeing long tailed tits, siskins or some types of finches. Now I have seen all of the above in my own garden. The smaller garden birds seem to be making a comeback.

If you decide to take part, your information can be sent off electronically or by post. Once received, your data is collated and helps to give the RSPB a bigger picture of the how well travelled certain species are, if they are spreading to new areas or prefer to stick to a certain locality.

Adults joined the fun

In 2001 the RSPB invited adults to join the fun. Consequently, over the last few years I have enjoyed teaching my own children about the type of birds we have visiting our garden. My kids are now excited that they can identify and feed them. It helped to peek their interest. I hope in the future, the tradition will continue and maybe they will enjoy sharing the experience with their children.

In 2014, the RSPB expanded the count to include other wildlife that frequents your garden. The count now includes garden visitors such as foxes, badgers, hedgehogs, squirrels and toads. This has helped give the RSPB a picture of where wildlife are living and getting their resources. It also tracks whether mankind has made a difference to their way of life. For example, the data shows that more foxes are living in city areas as they are adapting to where they can get food.

For more information visit the RSPB’s website www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch. It has information on how to get involved in the special weekend, advice on feeding and identifying garden birds and also a live webcam to their feeders at the local Sandy Nature Reserve in Bedfordshire.

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Big Garden Birdwatch