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Take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in Cambridgeshire


By CambridgeIndependent Reporter


Robin
Robin

The world's biggest garden wildlife survey sees people around the country become citizen scientists as they count the birds in their gardens for an hour between January 28 and 30, there are reasons aplenty to join in the fun on the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend.

Family doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
Family doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

The Big Garden Bird-what?

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is a nationwide garden wildlife survey in which people all over the country record what birds and other wildlife they have in their gardens. It only takes an hour to do over the weekend and as well as helping the RSPB build a picture of how wildlife in our gardens is faring, it is a fantastic way to find out more about the wildlife on your doorstep.

Top 10 birds in Cambridgeshire gardens in Big Garden Birdwatch 2016
Top 10 birds in Cambridgeshire gardens in Big Garden Birdwatch 2016

Why count the birds in our gardens?

It is estimated that gardens cover up to 10 million acres of land in the UK. That’s more than 6 per cent of our total land area, or put another way, it’s a big enough area for 350 cities the size of Cambridge.

Fun for all the family

Blue tit
Blue tit

Doing the Big Garden Birdwatch at home, as a family, is brilliant fun and can help bring generations together through their shared excitement at finding out what wildlife is living just outside our windows. You don’t even need to have a pair of binoculars – although it can help bring the birds closer.

It’s not just for the birds

For several years, the Big Garden Birdwatch has also gathered data on other garden wildlife, including hedgehogs, foxes, badger, toads, frogs and more. Birds are not the only creatures for which gardens are important homes. Hedgehogs are thought to have declined from as many as 30 million in the UK in the 1950s to as few as a million today, and the Big Garden Birdwatch is helping to monitor the situation.

Long-tailed tit
Long-tailed tit

You never know what you might see

If the current cold snap persists, we could see some more unusual birds appearing in our gardens. Look out for Scandinavian visitors such as redwing, fieldfare and waxwing in search of berries. While redwing and fieldfare come to the UK every winter, waxwings come in large numbers only in some years when food supplies are scarce at home. Waxwings arrived on the east coast in their hundreds earlier this winter and have since dispersed more widely, so if you

Wren
Wren

Help find Cambridgeshire’s top 10 garden birds

In 2016, more than 8,600 people in Cambridgeshire took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, helping find the county’s top ten garden birds. The ranking is based on the average number of birds per garden, and you can also see the proportion of gardens in which the different birds have been seen. By doing your own Big Garden Birdwatch you can help discover the top 10 for 2017.

Top 10 birds in Cambridgeshire gardens during 2016 Birdwatch

Goldfinch on frosty branch
Goldfinch on frosty branch

Species / Average number per garden / % Cambridgeshire gardens seen in

1 House sparrow / 4.27 / 63.5

2 Starling / 3.30 / 51.4

Male house sparrow
Male house sparrow

3 Blackbird / 2.83 / 93.2

4 Woodpigeon / 2.36 / 78.4

5 Blue tit / 2.32 76.1

6 Collared dove / 2.07 69.6

Female house sparrow
Female house sparrow

7 Goldfinch / 1.83 36.7

8 Chaffinch / 1.59 50.1

9 Great tit / 1.49 60.1

10 Robin / 1.37 82.4

Male blackbird
Male blackbird

Count the wildlife that’s counting on you: How to do the Big Garden Birdwatch

To take part in Big Garden Birdwatch 2017, watch the birds in your garden or local park for one hour at some point over the three days. Only count the birds that land in your garden or local park, not those flying over. Tell us the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time – not the total you see in the hour.

Filling in the Big Garden Birdwatch form
Filling in the Big Garden Birdwatch form

So don’t forget to put the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend dates in your diary. This year, the Birdwatch takes place on January 28, 29 and 30.

Visit rspb.org.uk/birdwatch to download you Big Garden Birdwatch survey pack.

Spotted something unusual? And did you take any great pics?

Chaffinch Fingilla coelebs, adult male on his song post - a wild rose stem, on a Devon farm. England. May 2008.
Chaffinch Fingilla coelebs, adult male on his song post - a wild rose stem, on a Devon farm. England. May 2008.

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