Help save nature with a cuppa

Kirsty Nutt

Tuesday 26 January 2016

More than half a million people across the UK are expected to spend an hour watching and counting their garden birds for RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in January 2016. In 2015, more than 43,000 people across Scotland took part in the survey including 1,086 in Moray. This year hopes are high that even more people will take part.

The world's largest garden wildlife survey, now in its 37th year, takes place on 30 and 31 January 2016. Since it began it has provided 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 Moray, house sparrows stayed at the top of the rankings [note 2] mirroring the Scottish result [note 4]. 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 3]. They remain the most commonly spotted bird in our gardens in the UK.

In Moray, chaffinches took second spot and blackbirds pipped starlings to third place once again, leaving starlings two places lower than in the overall Scottish rankings. Although starlings moved up one place to second across Scotland in 2015 their numbers continue to decline: they have dropped by an alarming 80 per cent respectively since 1979.

Keith Morton, Species Policy Officer at RSPB Scotland said: "It's great that so many people in Scotland including more than a thousand people in Moray take part in Big Garden Birdwatch. Both house sparrows and starlings, the top two birds in Scotland in our 2015 results, are red list species, and so the results help paint a picture of how they and other birds are faring over winter."

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]

Keith added: "Gardens are important to our wildlife all the year round. You can use your Birdwatch hour to consider how you can make your outside space more nature-friendly. Watch how the birds approach the feeders you have put out for them using trees, shrubs and bushes as different birds seek shelter in different places. You could start to plan ahead working out where to best place a nest box for the birds who visit your garden or thinking about adding some nectar-rich plants that are great for insects to your outside space. Small changes such as these can make a big difference." The RSPB's Giving Nature a Home campaign aims to tackle the housing crisis facing the UK's threatened wildlife. RSPB Scotland 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 species or building a home for a hedgehog [note 6]. The Big Garden Birdwatch is just one of the simple steps people can take to help nature. Participants don't need to be experts and can even take part in their slippers with a cup of tea.

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

Photographs:

To download a selection of images relevant to this press release, please click on the hyperlink below and then enter the user name and password when prompted.

https://www.rspb-images.com/respages/storysetsignon.aspx?key=d8cc3683-a5e7-4462-8d2c-44c290b0b13b

User Name: garden

Password: birdwatch

Editor's notes:

1. RSPB Scotland is part of the RSPB, the UK's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

2. 2015 Big Garden Birdwatch results for Moray:

Rank

Species

Mean

% gardens

1

House sparrow

7.23

74.68

2

Chaffinch

4.74

73.32

3

Blackbird

3.56

95.50

4

Starling

2.92

38.33

5

Blue tit

2.43

77.47

6

Goldfinch

1.82

32.69

7

Robin

1.82

94.42

8

Great tit

1.31

54.08

9

Long tailed tit

1.19

18.67

10

Dunnock

1.17

52.89

11

Woodpigeon

1.15

49.14

12

Tree sparrow

1.09

18.79

13

Coal tit

1.03

46.24

14

Collared dove

1.02

40.77

15

Greenfinch

0.87

28.76

16

Carrion crow

0.86

26.48

17

Pheasant

0.64

27.11

18

Jackdaw

0.57

19.57

19

Feral pigeon

0.48

11.49

20

Great spotted woodpecker

0.48

33.13

3. 2015 UK Big Garden Birdwatch results: rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

Rank

Species

Mean

% gardens

% change since 1979

1

House sparrow

4.254

64.58

-57.5

2

Starling

2.957

43.92

-80.3

3

Blackbird

2.753

91.63

-31.2

4

Blue tit

2.737

81.55

12.2

5

Woodpigeon

2.018

70.29

909.1

6

Chaffinch

1.445

40.39

-51.8

7

Robin

1.443

86.53

-27.8

8

Great tit

1.399

56.72

55.5

9

Goldfinch

1.300

28.38

NA

10

Collared dove

1.205

47.96

330.2

11

Magpie

1.146

52.65

186.6

12

Dunnock

0.905

45.72

13.1

13

Long tailed tit

0.809

22.10

NA

14

Feral pigeon

0.761

19.57

NA

15

Carrion crow

0.756

27.68

NA

16

Jackdaw

0.713

20.22

NA

17

Coal tit

0.565

29.89

NA

18

Greenfinch

0.461

18.02

-53.9

19

Wren

0.348

28.94

NA

20

Common gull

0.337

7.35

NA

4. 2015 Scotland Big Garden Birdwatch results:

Rank

Species

Mean

% gardens

Rank in 2014

1

House sparrow

6.44

74.3

1

2

Starling

4.32

48.6

3

3

Chaffinch

3.51

59.6

2

4

Blackbird

2.92

90.9

4

5

Blue tit

2.65

78.2

5

6

Robin

1.61

91.4

9

7

Woodpigeon

1.56

56.1

6

8

Goldfinch

1.31

25.5

7

9

Great tit

1.30

52.4

8

10

Feral pigeon

1.14

23.7

11

11

Carrion crow

1.08

34.6

15

12

Dunnock

1.00

47.2

12

13

Coal tit

0.94

42.8

10

14

Collared dove

0.91

35.9

13

15

Magpie

0.88

37.4

14

16

Tree sparrow

0.85

13.6

20

17

Jackdaw

0.84

23.5

16

18

Long tailed tit

0.65

12.9

18

19

Greenfinch

0.57

20.6

17

20

Pheasant

0.39

16.1

22

5. In 2014, as a new part of the Big Garden Birdwatch, the RSPB asked participants to tell us about some of the other animals in their garden including badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs. Slow worms and grass snakes joined the list in 2015 with foxes and stoats added to this year's list.

6. Together, we can create even more homes for nature. To find out how you can give nature a home where you live visit: rspb.org.uk/homes

Tagged with: Topic: Big Garden Birdwatch