Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest garden wildlife survey which takes place at the end of January each year – this year from 26th-28th January 2019…
In 1979 the RSPB were looking for a simple winter activity that children could get involved in. As it’s cold and the evenings are dark, they decided upon a weekend activity in the garden and asked children to count the birds in their gardens, in order to work out what the UK’s top 10 most common garden birds were.
Biddy Baxter (then editor of Blue Peter), liked the idea so much that she featured the survey on one of the programmes. The RSPB were only expecting a few hundred children to take part but, thanks to Biddy’s coverage, they received more than 34,000 forms! This ‘one-off’ activity grew into the regular event it is today and in 2001 adults were invited to join in the fun too.
With over half a million people now regularly taking part, coupled with almost 40 years worth of data, Big Garden Birdwatch monitors trends and helps understanding on how our birds are doing. Using the same survey format, the scientific data can be compared year-on-year, making results very valuable to scientists as they are able to create a ‘snapshot’ of bird numbers across the UK.
While some changes in bird numbers seem scary – we’ve lost more than half our house sparrows and some three-quarters of our starlings – it isn’t all doom and gloom. Since Birdwatch began blue tit numbers have risen by 20 per cent and the woodpigeon population has increased by a whopping 800 per cent.
The results help to spot problems, but more importantly, they are also the first step in putting things right.
The threats to our wildlife means that it’s not just birds facing tough times, it’s our badgers, snakes and other animals too. To get a more complete picture of the state of our wildlife, in 2014 the survey included some of the other animals in our gardens which has continued to be part of the survey each year and helps identify trends in other wildlife as well as birds.
The more people involved, the more can be learned, so please encourage your family, friends and neighbours to take part.
Are you ready to #BigGardenBirdWatch? Go to https://bit.ly/2GKSFTt to request a free pack, or take part online. Share your experiences on social media – don’t forget to use #BigGardenBirdwatch.
More information at https://bit.ly/2QXuI05
Park House with its 10 acres of grounds on the edge of the South Downs National Park is the perfect place for spotting birds and other animals… and as we are in the middle of the Dark Sky Reserve, you may also be able to observe some of our nocturnal wildlife!