Celebrating 40 Years Of Counting Garden Birds

The RSPB is celebrating 40 years of its’ famous Big Garden Birdwatch. Over 8 million hours have been spent watching garden birds since the Birdwatch began in 1979 with more than 130 million birds counted. Taking part in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey takes just one hour and provides the RSPB with an annual snapshot into how our wildlife is faring.

To mark the event, the RSPB is asking participants to share their stories of how they take part ‘How will you #BigGardenBirdWatch?’.

For the last 40 years, thousands of people across the region have been donating an hour of their time to help make the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch the world’s largest citizen science project. Anyone can take part and you don’t even have to have a garden; a balcony birdfeeder or a local green space can be a great place to spot wildlife too!

This year’s event takes place over Saturday 26, Sunday 27 and Monday 28 January 2019. If you’ve never taken part before, it’s not too late to join in! Simply click here to sign up.

The results give the RSPB an astonishing amount of insight into how our wildlife is faring. For four decades, Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world. It was first to alert the RSPB to the decline in song thrush numbers. The song thrush was a firm fixture in the top 10 in 1979. Last year in the South East they were in 21st place.

Nic Scothern, RSPB Regional Director for the South East says: “I love taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch, and I’m always surprised by how many different birds there are right outside my own kitchen window. Just taking sixty minutes to pause and actively look at nature gives me a fresh perspective on my own surroundings. It feels good to be part of something to help save nature“.

We can all do more to Give Nature a Home and our online activities will help you prepare for January’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Thanks to everyone who has participated over the past four decades we were able to identify and address a massive fall in the number of house sparrows. I’m delighted to say we’re now seeing their numbers slowly increase across the south east. Fingers crossed this year shows that trend continue, but we’ll only know that if people spare us an hour and contribute to the survey.

The survey has also shown national increases in collared dove and wood pigeon numbers and the alarming declines of the house sparrow and starling. The UK decline in house sparrows since the Big Garden Birdwatch began is 57% (1979 – 2018). In the South East their numbers fell 15% (2005 – 2018), but there was a 3.7% increase last year compared with 2017.

As well as counting birds, the RSPB is once again asking participants to log some of the other wildlife they have seen throughout the year. This year, we’d like to hear about encounters with badgers, foxes, both grey and red squirrels, muntjac deer, roe deer, frogs and toads.

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2019, watch the birds in your garden or local green space for an hour at some point over the three days. Only count the birds that land, not those flying overhead. Tell us the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time. This means you’re not counting the same bird more than once if it makes repeat visits during your survey. Even if you don’t spot anything in your chosen hour, this data is more valuable than you might think, so do still send your results in!


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Penny Post


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Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale