Merseyside, it's time to
join in the world's largest wildlife survey
OVER half a million people expected
to participate in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch on 30 and 31 January 2016.
People in Merseyside taking part in this year's Big Garden Birdwatch will be
helping to provide conservation scientists with valuable data about the
changes in numbers of birds using our gardens in winter, enabling them to
help protect our wildlife
for future generations.
More than half a million people are expected to watch and count their garden
birds this weekend in what is the world's largest garden wildlife survey.
For almost 40 years, the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch has helped raise
awareness of those species in decline like starlings and song thrushes,
whose numbers have dropped by an alarming 80% and 70% respectively since the
Birdwatch began in 1979.
There is slightly better news for the house sparrow, as its long term
decline appears to have slowed and it remains the most commonly spotted bird
in our gardens. However, its numbers have dropped by 58% since 1979.
Dr Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said:- "The 2015 survey
was another great year for participation. More than half a million people
took part and more than 8.5 million birds were spotted in gardens across the
country. With so many people now taking part, the results we get from
gardens are very valuable. And as the format of the survey has always been
the same, this data can be compared year on year. The results help us create
an annual 'snapshot' of bird numbers across the UK, which, combined with
over 30 years' worth of data, allows us to monitor trends and understand how
birds are doing."
With the last month of 2015 being reported as the wettest and warmest
December on record but with temperatures since varying between freezing and
unseasonable mild, the results from Big Garden Birdwatch will also help the
charity understand how these unusual weather conditions have affected birds
visiting gardens this winter.
Ben Andrew, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said:- "If the UK experiences a
continuation of these milder temperatures, those taking part in Big Garden
Birdwatch may notice their gardens quieter than in other years. The milder
weather means that there is more food available in the wider countryside,
with birds being less reliant on garden feeders. However, winter is a hard
time for our garden wildlife so it's still vital that people keep their
feeders stocked up with a variety of energy-rich food so birds can find food
whatever the weather. Either way, mild or cold, it will be fascinating to
see how the birds respond this weekend."
For the 3 year running, the RSPB is also asking participants to log some of
the other wildlife they see in their gardens throughout the year such as
hedgehogs, foxes, stoats and squirrels, to help build an overall picture of
how important gardens are for giving nature a home. The RSPB will share the
results with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), People's Trust for
Endangered Species (PTES) and The Mammal Society to add to their species
databases. Results will help all the organisations involved build their
understanding about the threats facing garden wildlife.
Dr Fiona Mathews, Chair of The Mammal Society, said:- "Gardens can
offer fantastic habitat for wild mammals, simply leave things a bit untidy
and watch what happens. For example, a bramble patch and a pile of fallen
leaves can provide a good nesting site for hedgehogs, whilst bats will feed
on night flying-insects attracted to blackberry flowers."
Dr John Wilkinson, from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC), said:-
"It's great to see that the Big Garden Birdwatch is again recording species
such as grass snakes and slow worms, whose habitats are declining in the
wider countryside. Gardens are crucial habitats for much of the UK's
pressured biodiversity and you can, for example, encourage slow worms into
your garden by having a compost heap which is left undisturbed over the
summer so they can give birth there; they will repay you by demolishing your
slugs! If you're lucky, grass snakes may even use your heap for egg laying."
David Wembridge, Mammal Surveys Co-ordinator, People's Trust for Endangered
Species, said:- "Mammals are a less showy lot than birds, but their
presence in gardens is just as important an indicator of the natural value
of these green spaces. Recording wildlife as part of the Big Garden
Birdwatch lets us see how rich, surprising and precious our wild neighbours
are. The survey is part of the RSPB's Giving Nature a Home campaign, aimed
at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK's threatened wildlife. The RSPB
is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and
outside spaces; whether it's putting up a nest box for birds, creating a
pond to support a number of different creatures or building a home for a
hedgehog. The Big Garden Birdwatch is just one of the steps you can take to
help nature near you. To take part, simply request a free pack from the RSPB
website or register your details to save time on the weekend. The RSPB will
be live blogging throughout the weekend and offering downloadable bird song
on their website as a soundtrack for the bird watch. If you fancy a sweet
treat whilst counting the birds, delicious new cake recipes from Frances
Quinn, winner of the Great British Bake Off 2013, will also be available on
The parallel event, Big Schools' Birdwatch runs until 12 February 2016.
Further information can be found