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Let's get ready to Birdwatch!

Last modified: 26 January 2016

RSPB Scotland is encouraging people of all ages to get involved in the world’s largest wildlife survey next weekend and to celebrate, there will be a special event taking place at the Dundee Botanic Gardens and at RSPB Scotland’s Loch Leven nature reserve near Kinross, on Saturday 30 January.

More than half a million people across the UK are expected to spend an hour watching and counting their garden birds for the 37th RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch over the weekend of 30 and 31 January 2016. Last year 43,000 people across Scotland took part including 2,006 in Perth and Kinross but the charity are hoping even more people will take part this year to help provide valuable information about the changes in numbers of birds using our gardens in winter.

Overall more than 632,000 birds were counted in Scotland in the 2015 survey. In Perth and Kinross, house sparrows stayed at the top of the rankings [note 2] mirroring the Scottish result [note 3]. Their long term decline appears to have continued to slow, although numbers have dropped by 57% since the first Big Garden Birdwatch in 1979 [note 4]. They remain the most commonly spotted bird in our gardens in the UK.

As well as counting their feathered friends, RSPB Scotland is also asking participants to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens and green spaces such as hedgehogs, foxes, stoats and squirrels, to help build an overall picture of how important they are for giving nature a home [note 5].

Loch Leven’s Big Garden Birdwatch will take place on Saturday 30 January from 10 am until 4 pm, and visitors can get top tips on how to take part in the survey all day. From 10 am until noon, specialists from the Tay Ringing Group will be on hand to demonstrate how putting rings on birds’ legs to tag them has led to some startling scientific discoveries and give visitors a chance to get up close to some favourite feathered friends. Then between 1 and 4 pm, there will be the chance to build a nest box to take home. This drop-in event is free but a £5 donation is requested for nest boxes. For more info about the event at Loch Leven call 01577 862355.

Also on Saturday 30 January, from 11 am – 3 pm, visitors can drop by the Botanic Gardens in Dundee to discover what birds are visiting the feeders for a well needed snack. There will be the chance to get tips on how to identify garden birds and information about how to take part in the world’s largest wildlife survey. Families can also find out how to encourage wildlife into their garden and make a bird feeder to take home. This is a free event but an entry charge of £2 applies to enter the Botanic Gardens. For more information about the Dundee event call 01738 630783, email perth.admin@rspb.org.uk or visit rspb.org.uk/dundee.

Lauren is RSPB Scotland’s Community Engagement Officer in Tayside and Fife. She said: “So many of us enjoy feeding the birds in our garden. Big Garden Birdwatch is a great excuse to sit with a cup of tea for an hour and watch them, knowing that you are helping to gather important information about how garden birds are doing.”

She added: “Gardens are really important places for wildlife. I’m hoping this event will also encourage people to think about how they can make their gardens more nature-friendly by adding nest boxes or nectar-rich plants to their outside spaces. Taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch is just one of the steps people can take to help nature.”

For more information on Big Garden Birdwatch 2016 visit rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. 

The parallel event, Big Schools’ Birdwatch takes place during the first half of spring term next year. Further information can be found at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch

How you can help

Find out which birds were the movers and shakers in this year's Big Garden Birdwatch charts.