It can be a dull time of year – post Christmas, poor weather, dark mornings and evenings – so why not cheer yourself up with a spot of bird watching!
Big Garden Birdwatch
Next weekend (25th/26th January) the RSPB are encouraging as many of us as possible to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. Last year around 500,000 people took part in the simple survey, which involves observing the birds in your garden or local park for an hour then submitting your results to the RSPB.
The survey showed a decline in the number of starlings and house sparrows, while the cold temperatures meant that some species increased, such as siskins, fieldfares, and jays. These species were driven to seek food in gardens by the difficult weather conditions.
Big Farmland Bird Count
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) are holding their inaugural Big Farmland Bird Count between the 1st and 7th February. The aim of the initiative is to raise awareness of the work being done by farmers for farmland birds and also to get farmers to recognise the birds they have on their farms and how what they do through things like Environmental Stewardship schemes and game-cover crops has a beneficial impact.
The GWCT are inviting farmers to spend about half an hour recording the species and number of birds seen on one area of the farm. Ideally, counting should take place at first light as this is when the birds are most active.
This important initiative offers farmers a simple means of recording the effect of any conservation schemes currently being initiated on their land such as the supplementary feeding of birds or growing wild bird seed crops. It is also a useful way of gaining personal insight on how well their birds are faring.
In a pilot scheme in 2013 covering more than 10,000ha of land between them, the participating farmers recorded 69 different species ranging from tree sparrows, yellow hammer and linnet through to barn owls, kestrels and buzzards.