Count­ing the birds that visit your gar­den dur­ing the end of Jan­uary will help pro­vide valu­able in­for­ma­tion about our win­ter wildlife

Bird Watching (UK) - - News Wire - WORDS: CAROLINE OFFORD

MORE THAN HALF a mil­lion peo­ple will be watch­ing and count­ing their gar­den birds for the 2017 RSPB Big Gar­den Bird­watch (BGBW), tak­ing place from 28-30 Jan­uary. Since it be­gan 38 years ago, it has pro­vided valu­able in­for­ma­tion about the wildlife us­ing our gar­dens in win­ter. Sight­ings of well-known species such as Star­lings and Song Thrushes ex­pe­ri­enced an­other drop dur­ing the Big Gar­den Bird­watch last year. This wor­ry­ing de­cline con­tin­ues a trend that has seen the num­ber of both species vis­it­ing gar­dens de­cline by 81% and 89% re­spec­tively since the first BGBW in 1979. But it wasn’t all bad news. The tiny Long-tailed Tit flew into the Big Gar­den Bird­watch top 10 – for the first time in eight years – af­ter the av­er­age num­ber seen vis­it­ing gar­dens across the UK in­creased by 44%. Daniel Hay­how, RSPB Con­ser­va­tion Sci­en­tist said: “With more than half a mil­lion peo­ple now reg­u­larly tak­ing part, cou­pled with more than 30 years’ worth of data, Big Gar­den Bird­watch al­lows us to mon­i­tor trends and helps us un­der­stand how birds are do­ing. With re­sults from so many gar­dens, we are able to cre­ate a ‘snap­shot’ of the birds vis­it­ing at this time of year across the UK.” In some years, large num­bers of Waxwings ar­rive on the east coast in search of their favourite food, red berries. These events are known as ‘ir­rup­tions’ and hap­pen in years when there are too many Waxwings and not enough berries in north-east Europe and Rus­sia. This seems to be a Waxwing win­ter, with hun­dreds of the birds be­ing seen across the coun­try. It’s un­likely Waxwings will ever reach the Big Gar­den Bird­watch top 10, but we would ex­pect more peo­ple to spot them in their gar­dens this year. In ex­cess of half-a-mil­lion peo­ple joined in the world’s largest gar­den wildlife sur­vey in 2016 spot­ting more than 8.5 mil­lion birds. The House Spar­row re­mained top of the Big Gar­den Bird­watch rank­ings, with Star­ling and Blue Tit round­ing off the top three. To take part in the Big Gar­den Bird­watch 2017, watch the birds in your gar­den or lo­cal park for one hour at some point over the three days. Only count the birds that land in your gar­den or lo­cal park. You could use your find­ings to­wards your #My200birdyear All fam­ily mem­bers can get in­volved in the Big Gar­den Bird­watch

Green­finch QUAL­ITY TIME

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