RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 28-30 January 2017
The countdown has commenced for the world's biggest garden wildlife survey - and more people in the North East than ever before are being called upon to take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, running 28, 29 and 30 January 2017.
The public are asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds and other wildlife in their garden or local public space, then send their results to the RSPB. As the world's largest garden wildlife survey, now in its 38th year, more than half a million people are expected to take part in 2017.
In response to many requests over the years, and for the first time in its history, people will also be able to take part on the Monday, extending the birdwatch to three days. It is hoped this will allow even more people to spend an hour counting the birds in their park or garden, adding to the snapshot of how they are doing.
To help prepare for the Big Garden Birdwatch, there are plenty of events taking place in the North East this January - from discovering how to attract more wildlife into your garden to gaining tips on how to identify the creatures that live on your doorstep.
From Saturday 28 to Sunday 29 January, 10 am-4 pm, RSPB Saltholme near Stockton-on-Tees, will be offering visitors hints and tips on doing their own Big Garden Birdwatch at home. There will also be the chance to make bird feeders and food to hang in your own garden. Price: £2 per child for crafts (members free). No need to book.
Head to Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle on Saturday 28 January, between 10 am-4 pm to take part in a garden bird count and find out more about how to participate at home.
Also on Saturday 28 January, visit Newcastle to join members of the RSPB Newcastle Local Group, park rangers and volunteers at Jesmond Dene to see how many garden birds you can identify and add your sightings to the national survey. This free, drop-in event will be held between 10 am-2 pm.
Over in Middlesbrough, meet RSPB staff at Stewart Park where there will also be a chance to get your family involved in a bird count and discover more about Big Garden Birdwatch between 10 am-4 pm.
Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist said: "With over half a million people now regularly taking part, coupled with over 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. Even if you see nothing during your Big Garden Birdwatch hour, that's important information too, so please let us know."
As well as counting feathered friends, the RSPB is once again asking participants to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens and green spaces such as grass snakes, hedgehogs, stag beetles, stoats and moles.
Daniel added: "The threats to our wildlife means that it's facing tough times. For example it is estimated that we've lost more than half of our hedgehogs in the last 50 years. We're going to include this part of the survey every year now, enabling us to monitor the distribution of other wildlife as well as trends in bird numbers."
To take part, download your free Big Garden Birdwatch pack at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.
Results will be published in March 2017.
The parallel event, Big Schools' Birdwatch takes place during the first half of spring term, 3 January-17 February 2017. Further information can be found at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch