The countdown has commenced for the world’s biggest garden wildlife survey – and more people in Cheshire than ever before are being called upon to take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, running 28, 29 and30 January 2017.
In response to many requests over the years, and for the first time in its history, people will also be able to take part on the Monday, extending the birdwatch to three days. It is hoped this will allow even more people to spend an hour counting the birds in their park or garden, adding to the snapshot of how they are doing.
To help prepare for the Big Garden Birdwatch, there are plenty of events taking place in Cheshire this January – from discovering how to attract more wildlife into your garden to gaining tips on how to identify the creatures that live on your doorstep:
A ‘Big Farmland Bird Walk’ will be taking place at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands nature reserve in Burton on Sunday 22 January. This exclusive, early morning event will give participants a behind-the-scenes look at parts of the reserve not normally accessible to the public and the chance to discover a range of birds, including those you might see on your Big Garden Birdwatch. It takes place from 8-10 am and costs £8 per adult (RSPB member £6, children half adult price). Booking is essential by phoning 0151 353 8478.
Visitors are also invited to a ‘Get Ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch event at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands nature reserve on Sunday 22 January. Staff and volunteers will be on hand at the bird feeders to help with identifying our feathered friends and offering advice on making gardens more wildlife friendly. Families can also have a go at making bird cake to help attract birds to their garden, ready for the birdwatch weekend. Drop-in between 11am - 3pm - activities are free but donations are welcome and normal admission charges to the nature reserve apply for non-members.
Meet the RSPB Stockport Local Group at Woodford Park Garden Centre in Stockport on Sunday 22 January. Volunteers will be on hand from 10.30 am-4.30 pm with information about the Big Garden Birdwatch, assisting with tricky bird identification and advising on how to attract more wildlife to your garden.
Also on Saturday 28 January, over at Reddish Vale Country Park, join RSPB Stockport Local Group for a guided walk, spotting the birds that call the park home. Volunteers will also be providing information on how to participate in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch and ideas for helping wildlife in your garden.
Head to Risley Moss nature reserve in Warrington on Sunday 29 January from 10 am-4 pm. Visitors can take part in Big Garden Birdwatch themed activities and get hints and tips on how to participate in the count this year.
Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist said: “With over half a million people now regularly taking part, coupled with over 30 years worth of data, Big Garden Birdwatch allows us to monitor trends and helps us understand how birds are doing. With results from so many gardens, we are able to create a 'snapshot' of the birds visiting at this time of year across the UK. Even if you see nothing during your Big Garden Birdwatch hour, that’s important information too, so please let us know.”
As well as counting feathered friends, the RSPB is once again asking participants to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens and green spaces such as grass snakes, hedgehogs, stag beetles, stoats and moles.
Daniel added: “The threats to our wildlife means that it’s facing tough times. For example it is estimated that we’ve lost more than half of our hedgehogs in the last 50 years. We're going to include this part of the survey every year now, enabling us to monitor the distribution of other wildlife as well as trends in bird numbers.”
To take part, download your free Big Garden Birdwatch pack at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. Results will be published in March 2017. The parallel event, Big Schools’ Birdwatch takes place during the first half of spring term, 3 January–17 February 2017. Further information can be found at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch