Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma

For many of us, January isn’t exactly the most popular month. As we reluctantly take down the tree and the tinsel, we feel the excitement and vibrancy of Christmas fade into the distance, and familiarise ourselves again with the working day routine.

Many of us see the table that was festively decorated for Christmas dinner mere days ago now return to be the makeshift work desk. Throw in a pandemic and a lockdown, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to feel that this January is the grimmest in recent memory!

But while hope may at times feel in short supply, it is important to remember how nature is always there for us. And while it may not be the solution to all of life’s problems, it can amaze, calm, humour and as we have seen over the last year, comfort us. The numbers of people who turned to the nature on their doorsteps over an anxious 2020 was incredible. And with another lockdown underway, we all need something to look forward to this month – and this is where the Big Garden Birdwatch comes into things!

An hour to treasure  

On the weekend of January 29-31, we embark on the biggest citizen science project in the UK. We take an hour of our time to put our phones down, put the kettle on and look out to our garden (or green space from the window) to take note of the birds that we see. This is not only a good way of escaping the hectic and electronically led normality of our daily lives, but also a way of giving something back to our feathered friends. The birds, who grace our gardens and green spaces and who can bring so much joy to us from day-to-day, very much depend on this annual birdwatch.

Here’s why.

So much of what we learn through the Big Garden Birdwatch comes into practice in terms of how and where we focus our work and effort. We can see what birds are doing well, which are struggling, and act accordingly to help those birds that need a helping hand in an ever-changing Wales.

So what can you look out for in your garden this month? Expect to see a lot of the usual garden birds - house sparrows, blue tits, starlings, robin, dunnocks, blackbirds, maybe even a greater spotted woodpecker. Recent Big Garden Birdwatch results in recent years have shown a consistent rise in numbers of goldfinches and long tailed tits, so keep a look out for those also.

Food for thought

Food is especially important to birds at this cold time of year, and with a variety of bird food comes a variety of birds! Fill your feeders with sunflower hearts, which are a favourite among most species. Peanuts are great for blue and great tits and the occasional nuthatch, as are nyjer seed for the goldfinches. Some birds such as the robin, dunnock or blackbird prefer to eat from the ground – so throw a good whack of suet nibbles down for them. Suet cakes and fat balls are also fantastic for attracting starlings, who will gather in large flocks if there’s a feast to be had! If you don’t have much bird food, not to worry – kitchen scraps such as cake and biscuit crumbs, cooked rice and pasta, will also be appreciated. Be careful not to put too much out and don’t forget to keep your feeders and surfaces clean.

So, if you haven’t already, go and register for the Big Garden Birdwatch now – and join us in helping our wonderful nature and give this January some light at the end of the tunnel!