Fersiwn Gymraeg ar gael yma.

Many see January and the New Year to begin anew, to start as we intend to go on. In our case, and for many thousands of others across Wales taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, this is certainly true.

On the last weekend of January, we fill our feeders and put the kettle on as, for an hour on that weekend we sit down to count the birds that grace our gardens, bounce on our balconies or graze in our green spaces.

And why do we do this? Because it’s a laugh? Yes! Because it’s interesting? Of course! But it’s also hugely important to our work and the conservational status of our garden birds.

Citizen Science at its best

The Big Garden Birdwatch, taking place in the heart of winter when our garden birds depend on garden foraging the most, is our golden opportunity to see quite how they are faring. Indeed, it is the largest citizen science project in the UK, where we take a small sample from hundreds of thousands of gardens, balconies and green spaces to see which birds are doing well and which ones may need our conservation help in the future.

Not only is this form of research easy to partake in, but it is also a very direct, straight-forward way of building data that will helps us understand which birds are struggling, and our attention. The results are usually mixed in terms of news – while we often see heart-warming increases for some birds (the goldfinch has made great progress in the last decade), we also see the saddening plight facing other birds. The greenfinch and chaffinch have both suffered devastating decreases in their numbers over the last decade, with their declines strongly linked to the trichomonosis disease which is easily contracted through unclean bird feeders.

Historic Birdwatches over several decades also give us a great insight into the long-term trends that face our birds. Indeed, we have sadly seen a loss of 38 million birds across these islands in the last 50 years. There are varying reasons for this of course – climate change, loss of habitat - but the numbers are nevertheless sobering. 

But it isn’t all bad news. We have seen heartening comebacks from some birds in the last few years. 2019 saw the long-tailed tit suffering devastating drop in numbers following 2018’s ‘Beast From the East’ snow storm – only for it to make an astounding comeback in 2020’s Big Garden Birdwatch, and it maintained a place in the top ten in last year’s Birdwatch coming in at number 9. We also saw an increase in the popular robin in last year’s results, as it jumped three places to sixth.

Once you’ve completed your birdwatching hour and recorded your findings, how about commemorating your garden’s most frequent flier by picking up a pin badge of your number one bird? With locations across Wales hosting our pin badge boxes, from RSPB reserves to local coffeeshops, and an Ebay shop with a variety of stock, pin badges are a great way to show your support for giving nature a home. 

So wherever you are and whomever you are, expert or beginner – get involved this January and do your bit for the nature on your doorstep – sign up here for Big Garden Birdwatch 2022!

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