Our feathered friends need you!
You can assist conservation efforts by recording the birds you see in your garden as a part of the world's biggest wildlife survey. This year, the RSPB’s 39th annual 'Big Garden Birdwatch' takes place on the weekend of 27-29th January. It only takes an hour and is suitable for all ages and abilities, but provides a vital snapshot of how our garden and urban birds are faring. Please play a part!
The ‘Big Garden Birdwatch’ began in 1979, and has since been providing a wealth of valuable data on both the species of birds present in our gardens and their numbers, allowing conservation organisations to act on trends in the data you provide! You may well have heard about, or even been a part of, recent schemes that have made good use of that data within the Biosphere, such as the 'Brighton Swift Cities Project', or the 'Brighton and Hove’s House Sparrow Project'. There is more information here on how you can take part in the house sparrow community-led project for 2018.
Within The Living Coast, the birds recorded most often in gardens were blackbirds and robins, whilst house sparrows were the most numerous species recorded from all green spaces in last year’s survey, closely followed by starlings and blue tits. But house sparrows and starlings were far from present everywhere, as they were only recorded in 65% and 45% of gardens respectively.
Worryingly, against the backdrop of a general decline in the abundance of most bird species, the 'Big Garden Birdwatch' has recorded an 80% decline in starlings since it began, and numbers of the ever-popular greenfinch (currently being decimated by the Trichomonosis sickness bug) have declined very sharply in the last ten years. Even so, house sparrows and starlings were still the top two birds recorded in the nation’s gardens in 2017. Why not have a go this month and see how your garden compares?
Additionally, for schoolchildren, the RSPB also runs the Big Schools Birdwatch, which again involves counting birds for an hour, but can take place any time between 4 January and 12 February. Find information and resources here on how your school can take part. Jodie Palmer, our Schools Outreach Officer, is also available to run outdoor sessions at primary schools in the Biosphere. This is a partnership project with Aldi, funded through the new charges for plastic bags, to run free environmental education sessions focussed on Brighton and Hove, but extending into the rest of the Biosphere. To get in touch and book a session either contact brightonschoolsoutreach@rspb.
Conservation Officer - RSPB
All images courtesy of RSPB