The big count
What if there are no birds to count? Like many gardens in Britain, it took a long time for any birds to show up in mine this winter. Such has been the concern among bird lovers that the RSPB had to put out a press release to explain what was going on. The answer was simple: the mild weather meant birds could find food in the wild – they didn’t need us. “Birds tend to be pushed into gardens the harder the weather is,” says Bashford, “so the milder the weather, the fewer birds you will see in your garden.”
This doesn’t bode well for the Big Garden Birdwatch, as finches and winter migrants such as redwings and fieldfares are less likely to turn up. However, it’s still worth taking part. “Even if the weather is mild and there are fewer birds in your garden on the day of the count, please do still submit your results,” urges Bashford.
These low sightings can still be compared to those of other mild winters, helping track national population trends.
To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, simply spend an hour recording the highest number of each bird species seen in your garden or local park at any one time. Visit rspb.org. uk/birdwatch/ for more details.
Kate Bradbury is the author of The Wildlife Gardener (Kyle Books, £14.99)