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  • Writer's pictureAilie Brown

Big Garden Birdwatch

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

Every year, the RSPB promotes their Big Garden Bird Watch. The idea is to get a collection of information from all over the UK. It’s a great way for not only, everyone to be involved, but to see how our bird populations are doing. It can offer the opportunity to really get to know your garden or local woodland and the birds that live there.

Chaffinches flying to a feeder.
Chaffinches arriving at the feeder (Jane Hope)

This year, the Big Garden Birdwatch runs from 27-29th Jan. Our garden birds need that extra bit of help over the winter when food can be a bit scare and weather conditions can be unfavourable for foraging, so feeders can be really helpful. Before topping up I always make sure to clean my feeders and sterilise. Not only does it make them look shiny and new, but it helps to reduce transmission of parasites and disease.

Instructions from the RSPB website are as follows;

Taking part is as easy as 1,2,3.

1. Watch the birds around you for one hour

2. Count how many of each species of bird lands on your patch

3. Go online and tell us what you have seen.

Siskins competing for space on a bird feeder
Siskins competing for space (Jane Hope)

It’s important to remember to count birds that land anywhere in your garden, not just at your feeders. If you are taking part in a park or woodland, maybe give yourself a small perimeter. When you have a large number of birds of one species in your garden at one time, take the highest number of the individual species you counted. Siskins, chaffinches, and coal tits tend to be in small flocks. Blackbirds and Woodpigeons are usually on their own.

Here is a run through of last years results, although I’m sure regionally, things may differ.

2022 Big Garden Watch Results

1. House Sparrow

2. Blue tit

3. Starling

4. Woodpigeon

5. Blackbird

6. Robin

7. Goldfinch

8. Great tit

9. Magpie

10. Chaffinch

I plan on taking part on Saturday morning, I will do so from the comfort of my living room and look out to my front garden. I tend to find that in the morning, especially after a chilly night, the birds are rather frenzied around the feeders. I will also use my binoculars to see every nook and cranny of my garden. I’ll make sure to fill all the feeders up to the brim on Friday evening, sunflower hearts and fat balls go down quite a treat with the starlings and siskins that visit my feeders. I not only love watching the birds feast on my feeders, I love hearing them too, so I’ll crack my windows and listen to them squabble over energy rich peanuts.

Siskins and goldfinch on a feeder squabbling over sunflower hearts.
Siskins and Goldfinch squabbling over sunflower hearts (Jane Hope)

It may depend on where you live, but every now and then, an ‘out of ordinary’ bird appears in your garden. Recently for me, it was a female Blackcap, feeding on honeysuckle berries. On occasion I have a Buzzard or Sparrowhawk that flies over, but unfortunately for the Big Garden Birdwatch, you must only count the birds that land in your garden. In Speyside we are very lucky to have Red Squirrels and Crested tits that aren’t an unusual site, especially if you live close to pine forests.

I’m looking forward to the Big Garden Watch this weekend and a few of our Guides are also taking part, so we will update you all with our results and hopefully some nice surprises from what we have found.

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