Big Garden Birdwatch fever hits the nation

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Big Garden Birdwatch fever hits the nation

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It’s been a busy week here at the RSPB press office - we’ve had it all!

Watching birds in the garden, culling cormorants and crows, saving our forests, the discovery of an exotic bird, and even rapper Tinchy Stryder have all been in the news and linked to the RSPB one way or another. Here’s a rundown...

Well, as last week's news blog rightly predicted, this year's Big Garden Birdwatch has received some great media coverage, and it's still coming.  Up to now The Telegraph, Daily Express, BBC Online, Radio 4's The Today Programme and the Daily Mirror have all featured news about the world’s biggest wildlife survey.  Even Bill Oddie got in on the act with a great piece in The Guardian about the joys of watching birds and encouraging people to get involved in one of the biggest events in the RSPB calendar.

The Minister for the Natural Environment and Fisheries, Richard Benyon, got himself involved too, taking part in the birdwatch with our director of conservation, Mark Avery, in St James Park.

The Big Schools' Birdwatch was also launched this week with a feature on ITV1's Daybreak.  The RSPB's Youth President, Nick Baker, was on the couch talking about the wildlife survey - which is the biggest one of its kind in UK schools - and how to get involved. It even managed to grab the interest of fellow guest, ultra-cool and down-with-the-kids rapper Tinchy Stryder, who happily played with a cuddly blackbird toy to become the newest in a long line of celebrity RSPB fans, giving us a bit of street cred in the process!

'We're not out of the woods yet' was the response from us this week as we cautiously welcomed news that protecting and enhancing wildlife is to be a key test for how the Government plans to dispose of England’s Public Forest Estate. The Independent quoted the Mark Avery saying 'we need to be reassured that whoever manages former state-run forests, whether private individuals, companies, leaseholders or trusts and charities, will protect our native wildlife'.

On Wednesday the announcement of a large-scale trial corvid cull caused a conflict of opinion between the RSPB and Songbird Survival. We don’t believe there’s any evidence to support claims that crows, magpies and the like are responsible for the songbird decline, it’s changes in farming techniques that have considerably affected their numbers. The Times and Daily Mail featured the story, and RSPB species policy officer, Jeff Knott, went head to head with a Songbird Survival rep in a 5 live Drive interview.

And that wasn’t the only bird cull called for this week. The Daily Express told how anglers are campaigning for permission to kill large numbers of cormorants during their breeding season in order to protect fish stocks. Fisheries minister Richard Benyon announced a review of the system for culling cormorants but we think it’s a bad idea. The RSPB’s Grahame Madge got our point of view across on Farming Today in an interview that also featured a member of the Angling Trust.

And finally, a bird which has only been recorded three times in the UK was found dead in a garden in Devon reports BBC Online and The Telegraph. Identified by the RSPB as an American purple gallinule (a species of waterbird, similar to a colourful version of our resident moorhen), its though the death may have been due to exhaustion brought on by the cold weather.  

With a week as unpredictable as this, there’s no predicting what’s in store for us come Monday morning.

  • I have just give my birds a Fantastic! treat 2 kl garden worms and 1 kl meal worm in my garden it very small about the size small bed room 4 ft by 15 feet with 8 seed feeders and 3 peanut feeders as I am house bound the birds are great to watch from my bed as I have MS my bird patch is hoddom court ecclefechan dg11 3el dumfriesshire

    judy symms