Big Garden Birdwatch 2021

We'd been waiting all month and it finally arrived on 29-31 January - The Big Garden Birdwatch.

With the countries in lockdown again, the Big Garden Birdwatch provided the perfect excuse to sit down with a brew and some biscuits and stare out of the window for hour.  This wasn't just isn't wistful staring though, but really important science.  The Big Garden Birdwatch is in its 42nd year, which is no mean feat in itself.  This perfect citizen science project has mapped trends, increases and declines in the birds that visit our gardens and is a really important indicator as to how local or national these are and the possible contributing factors.

The project started in 1979 and was initially a youth project on Blue Peter, but due to its success the project continued and was rolled out wider.  Over half a million people took part last year, with the lockdown continuing and many people connecting in a greater way to the nature outside their home we hope there maybe an even greater increase in participants this year. 

Over the last 42 years over 144 million birds have been counted in the survey, with house sparrows topping the charts for the last 17 years and 2020 was no exception, despite seeing a decrease of 53% in numbers since the project began, placing them on the red list for conservation.  Great tits appear to be fairing well as they are up 72% since 1979, this is thought to be due to an increase in nest boxes and supplementary winter feeding and blue tits are up 8% for much the same reason.  They were number 7 and number 9 in the charts respectively.  The most startling declines have been seen in song thrushes, who are 81% down in numbers since the start of the survey.

So, what were the chart positions for our garden birds in 2020?

         House sparrow photo taken by Jo

1. House Sparrow

2. Starling

3. Blue tit

4. Woodpigeon

5. Blackbird

6. Goldfinch

7. Great tit

8. Robin

9. Long tailed tit (new entry)

10. Magpie.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On the office feeder, house sparrows were again top of the pile. In fact, there are nine species frequently seen on the feeder outside the office window, house sparrow, blue tit, dunnock, blackbird, great tit, robin, wood pigeon, jackdaw, song thrush.  The robins and the dunnocks seem fairly adept and agile in using the feeder too.

                 Robin, blue tit and house sparrow on the office feeder. Photos taken by Jo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

In my own garden the birds were magic...most of them disappeared on the day.  I regularly see at least 30 house sparrows together, there were 18, there's always a coal tit or two knocking about, except on Garden Birdwatch day obviously, there was a no show from any robins either, and the two sparrowhawk that regularly peruse my house sparrow buffet swooped in an hour or two too late for the count too.  At least a song thrush rocked up, the highlight of the hour.  

Let us know what you have been seeing in your gardens and on Garden Birdwatch day and don't forget to submit your results by 19 February.  I'm fairly certain that there's someone out there who had an amazing spot in their birdwatch hour.     

Jo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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