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Take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch 2019

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How would you like to spend an hour of your day watching and counting the birds in your garden or local park?

Birdwatching is a very relaxing activity and the thing I love about it is that you almost have your own nature show as a result. 

And there’s a good excuse to do it on the weekend of the 26-28 January 2019, as it’s time for the Big Garden Birdwatch.

This is the RSPB’s survey – and last year, the RSPB had a very busy time going through 420,489 results of what people had seen in their gardens and reported in.

The survey has been running since 1979, so the RSPB can now look back over 39 years of information and data.  This gives them a really good picture of what is happening to our birds and wildlife.  If there are species who are doing well, that’s fine.  If there are species who are struggling, the RSPB can take steps to put that right.

All you have to do to take part is:

  • Register for free online – it’s very quick and easy
  • Watch the birds in your garden or local park for one hour over the weekend of 26-28 January 2019
  • Record what you see
  • Send your results in to the RSPB by post or online.

How the RSPB processes your results and everyone elses's

  • Nothing happens for three weeks after the Birdwatch is over.  This gives everyone a chance to send their results in – some people do this faster than others.
  • Forms sent in on paper are entered into the online system to join all the online results
  • All the results are collated into one giant set of data
  • The Information Technology team scan the results looking for anomalies e.g. mistyped postcodes.  The data needs to be accurate.   They also look for any entries sent both online and in the post.
  • The data is now scanned for things such as birds which have been misidentified and don’t exist in a particular region, the number of bird species counted etc.  If someone saw 500 robins in their garden, they probably made a mistake as this is very unlikely.
  • Once the data is clean and accurate, it gets sorted.   There are counts for the whole of the UK and for counties, for each of the 400 local authorities and the UK’s constituent countries
  • Results are studied and comparisons made.   The team look at the average number of each species in each garden which shows how abundant they are.   The percentage of gardens in which birds were seen gives an idea of their distribution. 
  • The results are announced to the public and press.   The RSPB wants everyone to know how well birds are or aren’t doing.  If a species is struggling, it means that people can start working to help that species – perhaps by planning a particular shrub or digging a pond.   That sort of help could make all the difference.

So who were the Top Ten in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2018?

  1. House Sparrow (who nonetheless have suffered considerable declines)
  2. Starling
  3. Blue tit
  4. Blackbird (down by 18%)
  5. Woodpigeon
  6. Goldfinch
  7. Great tit
  8. Robin (down by 12%, though)
  9. Long-tailed tit
  10. Chaffinch

The RSPB think that the numbers of robins and blackbirds were down because the mild winter meant more food was available in the countryside so they weren’t so dependent on gardens for food.

Siskins and brambling numbers were up, and greenfinches saw a 5% rise in sightings. 

On the wildlife front, hedgehog sightings were up – they’ve been seen in 65% of gardens in the last year.   72% of people had seen foxes in their gardens or outdoor space.   Frogs were seen in over 75% of UK gardens but that’s 17% fewer sightings since 2014. 

So please, sign up to the Big Garden Birdwatch 2019 and get involved.  You don’t have to do anything really except for spending a joyful hour watching the birds and then recording your results and letting the RSPB know what they were.  

The more information we can send in to the RSPB, the better a position they will be in to work out which species need help and how we can all help that species best.

Teachers, don't forget there's the Big School Birdwatch...  find out more here and get the kids involved

Sign up to the Big Garden Birdwatch 2019 and get involved

 Big Garden Birdwatch starter kit offer

Big Garden Birdwatch starter kit offer
from the RSPB Online Shop 
Was £41.21, now £20.60

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