Today is the start of the RSPB's annual Big Garden Bird Watch (BGBW). Over the next two days thousands of people in homes, parks, and gardens will be taking an hour out of their busy life to just watch what comes by.
The RSPB ask that people watch their garden or local green space for one continuous hour and record which birds land or use the space, and how many of them arrive. It's important to only record the maximum number you see of each species all at once, not how many times you see that species (otherwise you might count one bird twice!). But with the RSPB's website for identifying birds it's very easy and a great chance to find out what's about in your local area.
Whilst at university I dutifully did the BGBW every year and, almost always, saw absolutely nothing for the whole hour even though I regularly saw lots of birds on my window feeders at other times. While it's a bit dull for the watcher no sightings is still really important for the RSPB's records. The BGBW is one of very few surveys that records thousands and thousands of data point across the UK, and this gives an annual picture of how garden birds are doing in different areas. Over the last 34 years that it's been running you can trace species that have gone up, and gone down, but in individual areas not just on a national scale. That's why this is such a great event to get involved with.
So, fill up your feeders and get your pen and paper ready. For more information and to register go to the Big Garden Bird Watch website. I'll let you know how I did next week. Happy watching!