Sit back, grab a cuppa and join in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey

Eleri Wynne

Thursday 26 January 2017

The countdown is on for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch

The people of Wales will be turning their eyes to the skies on 28, 29 and 30 January 2017 to take part in RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch. Children and adults alike are being asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds and other wildlife in their garden or local green space, before sending their results to the RSPB. Now in its 38th year, the Big Garden Birdwatch is the largest garden wildlife survey in the world and this year, for the first time in history, you have an extra day to spot your garden visitors as the Birdwatch extends to three days1. In response to a high demand, it is hoped this will allow even more people to take part, helping the RSPB to understand how our wildlife is doing. RSPB Cymru Communications Officer, Eleri Wynne, said: "More than 24,000 people took part in Wales last year2 and it's the ideal opportunity to get the whole family involved - simply put the kettle on, get comfy and count the birds you spot in your garden or green space. With results from so many gardens across Wales we're able to see how rich, surprising and precious our wild neighbours truly are. But whether you see a wealth of wildlife or nothing at all it doesn't matter, as we still want to hear from you." As well as counting our favourite garden birds, the RSPB is asking participants to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens and green spaces throughout the year such as hedgehogs, foxes, stoats and squirrels3. Gardens and outdoor spaces are an invaluable resource for wildlife and this will help build an overall picture of how important our gardens are for providing a home for nature.

Eleri added: "We love hearing how people come together to discover the exciting wildlife in their back gardens and you don't need to be an expert to take part. We have an online pack with everything you need and there is even a handy guide to help you tell your chaffinch from your goldfinch! With just a bit of effort, our homes can be great homes for the nation's birds too." To help prepare for the Big Garden Birdwatch, we've got plenty of events taking place across Wales - from discovering how to make brilliant bird feeders to identifying the creatures you share your home with... Come along to RSPB Conwy on 21 and 22 January to find out how you can attract more wildlife into your garden and discover what to feed your visitors once they arrive. The events are free and there's no need to book - just drop in any time between 11am and 3pm and join in the fun. On 22 January the team at RSPB Lake Vyrnwy will be on hand to help you make juicy fat balls and delicious feeders for your garden birds which you can then take home to pop in your garden ready for your big count. Pop in anytime between 11am and 3pm and places are free of charge. Join us at RSPB South Stack on 21 and 22 January where we'll help you create tasty treats for your garden birds and staff will be on hand to offer some top tips on how you can spot the wildlife on your doorstep. The event is priced at £3 for members and £4 for non-members and you're welcome to pop by anytime between 11am and 3pm. Practice your bird ID and create delicious delicacies for your garden birds at RSPB Ynys-hir on 22 January. The event is priced at £3 for members and £4 for non-members and you can drop in anytime between 11am and 3pm. We also have a range of events taking place throughout Cardiff through RSPB Cymru's Giving Nature a Home in Cardiff project, in partnership with the City of Cardiff Council. We'll be making scrumptious food for our birds at Cardiff's Forest Farm; Bute Park; Pugh's Garden Village; St David's Shopping Centre; St Fagan's Natural History Museum and Techniquest - as well as honing our bird spotting skills and getting creative at the National Museum of Wales. For more information visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/events-dates-and-inspiration/events/

You can register to take part and download your free Big Garden Birdwatch pack at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. You can also follow the action throughout the weekend by following @RSPBCymru on Twitter or using #BigGardenBirdwatch / #GwylioAdar. Results will be published in March 2017.

Our 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

1. Great news for Big Garden Birdwatch 2017: in response to many requests received over the years we will be trialling extending the weekend to include Monday 30 January. We're hoping this will allow even more people to take part and spend an hour counting the birds in their park or garden, adding to the snapshot of how they are doing. Each year we are asked whether people can take part on the Monday if they are busy over the weekend. From a science perspective, the addition of an extra day, will still provide a 'sample' of the birds visiting our gardens at that time of year. The important thing is that the general period of the survey itself has remained the same, and there's no reason that the number of birds recorded on a Monday will be any different to those at the weekend. The extra day should provide a chance for more people to take part adding even more data for analysis.

2. To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, simply watch the birds in your garden or local green space for one hour at any point over the three days. Only count the birds that land in your garden or local park, not those flying over. Please tell us the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time - not the total you see in the hour. You can register to take part and download your free pack at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. In 2016 more than 519,000 people across the UK took part counting a bumper 8,262,662 birds. The house sparrow remained the most spotted garden bird in Wales seen in nearly three quarters of participants' gardens, with the blue tit and starling completing the top three. Unfortunately however we saw a decline in the number of well known species such as starlings and song thrushes. The full 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch results for Wales were as follows:

Rank

Species

Mean

% gardens

Mean 2006

Rank 2006

% gardens 2006

Change 2006 - 2016

% change in % gardens recorded 2006-2016

1

House sparrow

5.89

72.5

5.23

1

76.09

12.6

-4.8

2

Blue tit

4.08

81.3

3.77

2

86.76

8.2

-6.3

3

Starling

3.16

36.2

3.68

4

47.81

-14.0

-24.2

4

Chaffinch

2.72

57.0

3.70

3

74.42

-26.7

-23.4

5

Blackbird

2.24

85.7

2.79

5

94.51

-19.6

-9.3

6

Great tit

2.12

64.5

1.87

6

62.83

13.3

2.6

7

Robin

1.53

87.4

1.62

8

90.70

-5.5

-3.6

8

Goldfinch

1.52

28.8

0.80

14

22.56

89.6

27.4

9

Long-tailed tit

1.41

27.4

0.77

15

20.18

82.7

35.9

10

Jackdaw

1.41

33.3

1.27

10

31.93

11.2

4.2

11

Magpie

1.36

60.3

1.23

11

56.43

11.3

6.9

12

Coal tit

1.14

48.1

1.03

13

48.48

9.8

-0.8

13

Woodpigeon

1.11

47.7

0.62

17

28.21

78.5

69.1

14

Collared dove

1.04

39.8

1.31

9

52.10

-20.6

-23.7

15

Dunnock

0.90

44.4

1.22

12

55.26

-26.2

-19.7

16

Carrion crow

0.84

28.5

0.72

16

27.22

16.9

4.6

17

Greenfinch

0.56

19.6

1.78

7

49.32

-68.8

-60.2

18

Feral pigeon

0.46

12.1

0.31

23

9.09

45.7

33.2

19

Common gull

0.37

9.1

0.22

28

5.90

66.7

54.2

20

Wren

0.33

27.9

0.44

20

36.36

-24.5

-23.3

3. 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. This year we're asking people to look for: fox, grass snake, hedgehog, slow worm, stoat, stag beetle, great crested newt and mole. Participants probably won't see these creatures during their hour watching - since hedgehogs, grass snakes and slow worms should be hibernating now. And not all on the list are found everywhere in the UK. But we'd like to know if any have visited their garden or local park in the last year and, if so, how often. The RSPB will share the non-bird results with Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (ARC), People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and The Mammal Society to add to their species databases.

The RSPB is 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. The RSPB's Giving Nature a Home campaign is aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK's threatened wildlife. The charity 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 for frogs and toads or building a home for a hedgehog. You can create your own personal plan and give nature a home near you at rspb.org.uk/myplan

Last Updated: Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tagged with: Country: Wales Topic: Big Garden Birdwatch