UK Bird News January 2011

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RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

How to take part
If like us, you love birds and want to help them, then the Big Garden Birdwatch is your chance to do something that really counts.

All you need is a pen, some scrap paper , and an hour to spend watching the birds in your garden on either Saturday 29, or Sunday 30 January 2011.
Then simply record the highest number of each bird species seen in your garden, or local park (not flying over) at any one time, and tell the RSPB what you saw.

How you've already helped the RSPB
For over 30 years, the RSPB been asking supporters to count the birds in their garden. During this time, more than 3 million hours have been clocked up watching and enjoying the birds that visit our gardens (that's more than 380 years!), and every year, some 6 million birds are spotted by people like you.
With results from some 280,000 gardens helping the RSPB create a 'snapshot' of bird numbers in each region, the RSPB have been able to see that some of our birds are disappearing in scary numbers.
We've lost more than half our house sparrows, and three-quarters of our starlings, and your results have certainly helped highlight these dramatic declines.

However, it isn't all doom and gloom - these surveys might help the RSPB spot problems, but more importantly, they are also the first step to help aid a species recovery.

In the classroom
If you're a teacher or youth leader, get your whole class to take part in Big Schools' Birdwatch - the RSPB's simple and fun activity for schools and youth groups that runs between 24 January to 4 February 2011.

Click here to take part.......

How will the coldest December on record affect results of the world's biggest wildlife survey?

How will the coldest December on record affect results of the world's biggest wildlife survey?

At least half a million people are expected to be watching more garden birds than ever before at the weekend, (29-30 January), for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.
The RSPB is keen to know how the coldest December since records began has affected garden bird numbers.

The worst winter weather is usually in January and February, and the wildlife charity believes that the early start to winter, and the extremely low temperatures will mean that gardens have already been occupied by higher numbers of birds than normal.
The RSPB also expects some unusual sightings in the survey, with less common birds already having had 3-4 weeks to find food left out by concerned householders.
Dr Mark Avery, RSPB Conservation Director, says: “Regardless of where they live, or the size of their outside space, people in the UK have been united this winter in their wish to try and help garden birds.

“As a result, we expect more birds than ever to be recorded in Big Garden Birdwatch 2011, and maybe more unusual species than other years.

“The really cold weather began quite early in December, and this would have when been natural food sources became scarce. Birds that wouldn’t usually be found in gardens had to adapt their behaviour and look closer to home in our gardens.
“By now, these birds could have been making the most of our hospitality for over a month, meaning even more unusual sightings this weekend.”
Participants are also expected to take part from a wider variety of gardens than ever before too.
People have already confirmed that they will be doing Big Garden Birdwatch from places like boats, old people’s homes, caravans, allotments, nurseries and prisons, helping garden birds, no matter where they live or the size of their garden.

Even Government ministers will be taking part

Even Government ministers will be taking part

Even Government ministers will be taking part, and Richard Benyon, Minister for the Natural Environment, says: “The Big Garden Birdwatch is something everyone can get involved in and I'm looking forward to taking part this year. Our bird populations are a good indicator of the wider health of our environment and the valuable information collected will help us understand more about why birds are in decline and what we do to help them.”

Russell Bates, who works at Kirklevington Grange Prison, says: ”We are among many prisons that do Big Garden Birdwatch, and it’s a great way to get both prisoners and staff involved in an activity that is not only fun, but helps us meet our green targets.
“Its therapeutic for the prisoners, it’s enjoyable and it gives them a chance to spend time with others with similar interests.
“The birds we see most frequently around our prison are blackbirds and wood pigeons and we get some rarer species like woodpeckers and pied wagtails. We hope to see even more this year after putting up nestboxes and planting things to attract wildlife to the prison perimeter.”
Fen Gerry, who will be taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch from her canal boat home says: “Who says you have to take part from a house with bricks and mortar?! Anyone with an outside space can get involved, and my ‘back garden’ happens to be the Oxford canal so that’s where I’ll be watching birds for an hour this weekend.”
There has been huge concern about birds during the extended periods of snowy weather, and the RSPB’s switchboards and website have been constantly busy with people looking for advice on feeding garden birds and help identifying unusual visitors. The charity has also sold a record amount of birdseed this winter.
The charity hopes that as well as providing useful data to study trends and spot any worrying declines, the survey will act as a reminder that garden birds still need our help for a few weeks yet. The RSPB is advising people to continue putting out supplementary food and water, to attract all kinds of species.
Richard Bashford, RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Project Manager, says: “The Big Garden Birdwatch is the biggest garden bird survey in the world and as well as being of scientific importance, it’s a whole lot of fun to take part in too!
“Around the UK, people will be settling down in the warm, with a cup of tea and a pen, and noting what birds visit their garden for one hour. It really is that simple. And don’t worry if you’re not sure you know your song thrush from your starling – we provide descriptions and pictures on the form and on our website to help you figure it out.
“As well as reaping the rewards of things you’ve been doing in your garden since the last survey, like feeding and planting, you will be making a valuable contribution to bird conservation – from the warmth of your armchair!”

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | UK Bird News | Bird News for United Kingdom 2011 |  UK Bird News January 2011

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