Norfolk Biodiversity

The 36th Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch has been happening since 1979, hence this year is the 36th. It is a UK-wide bird survey in which everyone is invited to participate.

All it involves is spending one hour over the weekend of the 24th and 25th January 2015 counting the birds that come into your garden. That’s it!

Big Garden Birdwatch (Credited to Chorely Wood Magazine)

‘What a tweet’ (Credited to Chorely Wood Magazine)

Why take part?

It is an opportunity for you to sit back and enjoy the wildlife in your garden from the comfort of your home! And you will not be alone. Last year approximately half a million people joined in and recorded over 7 million birds! 

“This is a fun, relaxing activity for families or individuals and everyone who takes part will be helping to give nature a home” (Aggie Rothon, RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Project Manager).

You will be helping us to have a ‘birds eye view’, so we can find out what is happening with our fantastic variety of birds found here in Norfolk and across the UK.

What might you see?

Although it varies depending on your location, the food you use and where food is placed, the top 5 birds seen last year were:

1. House Sparrow (Credited to Brian-Macfarlane)

1. House Sparrow (Credited to Brian Macfarlane)

3. Starlings (Credited to Barry Madden)

3. Starling (Credited to Barry Madden)

4. Blackbird by Ray Kennedy / RSPB

4. Blackbird (Credited to Ray Kennedy / RSPB)

Woodpigeon Credited to Brian Macfarlane

5. Woodpigeon (Credited to Brian Macfarlane)

Tips for attracting birds

1. Make or buy a bird feeder

Some birds prefer to feed on the ground e.g. Blackbirds, while others like food hanging from a tree e.g. Blue Tits. But some don’t mind where they feed, they are just grateful for the ‘tweet’, e.g. Robins. So scattering bird food on the lawn will work for some, but why not have a go at building your very own bird feeder? The RSPB provide a number of ways to do this, which could be a fun activity for family and friends (see here).

2. Provide clean water

Birds need to drink clean and fresh water regularly, while bathing is also a necessity, even for those who ‘wing it’. They are even willing to fly for miles just for a drink and to keep their feathers all in order. Here are some tips on making your own bird baths and where to locate them.

3. Build a shelter

“Many species use artificial nesting boxes, from large birds of prey such as kestrel and barn owl to the smallest garden bird such as blue or coal tit” (Jeff Baker, from the British Trust for Ornithology).

A bird shelter will encourage birds to mate and live within your garden. You may need to be patient as the birds get settled with the new roost, but it will be worth the wait once they roost. BBC Nature offers tips for building your own nest box.

So, how do I get involved?

The Big Garden Birdwatch By Andy Hay

‘Fun for all the family’ (Credited to Andy Hay)

There are three simple steps to taking part. Firstly, you can register for it on the RSPB’s website (here). If you register before the day, you can receive a free information pack.

Secondly, spend one hour watching and recording the birds in your garden on either 24th or 25th January 2015. There is a helpful counting sheet that you can print out (here).

Last of all, submit your results digitally or via post by filling out a form. And that’s it! You will have taken part in the “world’s biggest wildlife survey”. Now that’s something to tweet about.

The results of this years survey will be available from March 2015. And don’t worry if you missed out, you can always send Norfolk records to NBIS here. Otherwise, we will wait with anticipation for next years survey to be even bigger!

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About Matt Thorne

Works in Environment, Transport and Development at Norfolk County Council

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