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Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend 27-29 January



  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 35,797
    Hello @Big Blue Sky as a lifelong member of the RSPB, I have been doing this birdwatch since it started in 1979. I will be doing my hour on Sunday. - Bird feeders full and my perch by the window already prepared!
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • philippasmith2philippasmith2 Posts: 2,643
    I do it every year @Big Blue Sky :)
  • Slow-wormSlow-worm Posts: 1,117
    I did it this morning, and had some new visitors, plus a returning customer and his new mate, it was like they'd turned up for the census! 😄
  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 4,884
    Thank you for the reminder. I will top the feeders up (is that cheating, or the point?) Sunday morning and hope I see something more than magpies. Unless my neighbours have better treats for them then they’ll all be there! 
    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
  • LunarSeaLunarSea Posts: 1,324
    Yep, I'll be doing my count tomorrow. Like @Ladybird4 I've been taking part for many years (over 30 in fact). 

    But I have to confess I'm now having a crisis of faith. Every year the RSPB (of which I've been a member for 40+ years) take great delight in telling us that the House Sparrow is top of the list. These are their words from 2022 -

    "The House Sparrow remained at the top of the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings as the most commonly seen garden bird with more than 1.7 million recorded sightings throughout the weekend."

    And yet they still insist on categorising it as 'red-listed in the UK'. I'm afraid that just doesn't add up for me! Ok so the species is seen less frequently in some towns and cities, but that does not justify the red-listing when 1.7 million can be seen in one weekend across the UK. We've got more House Sparrows in our village now than we've ever had in the 40 years we've lived here. Three nest sites on our property last year, and upto 20 feeding in our garden during the cooler months.

    The RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) will never acknowledge that there were far fewer House Sparrows 250 years ago at a time when there were considerably fewer houses for them to nest in. The peak of their population was due to the industrial revolution and the massive house-building that resulted from it. What we are seeing now is the population settling back to a more natural size. They may be redistributing around the country but they are not threatened in the UK.
    Clay soil - Cheshire/Derbyshire border - where old gardeners often wet their plants.
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 9,041
    Where do those figures come from? There aren't really any good accurate records from 250 years ago to compare to as far as I know. The estimated population of House Sparrows is currently over 5 million breeding pairs so the total population fluctuates hugely from 10 million up to tens of millions every year (given each breeding pair can have several broods but lots get killed). This is still down by 60-70% in the last 50 years and might be still declining which is why they've been given the listing. The population has little to do with the number of houses and more to do with agricultural practices. Like a lot of bird species, you shouldn't really be seeing them in towns and cities but that is just where the food sources are now. They'd be happier browsing wild food or clearing up spilt grains on harvested crop fields. The ones in my garden were browsing the pollen from the hazel trees today.
    Personally I still think that these are one of the trickier birds to judge in terms of population since they did very well off older farming methods. Knowing what a natural population level should be like is almost impossible. In the perfect world where 30% of the UK is maintained as natural habitat, and we feed the birds in the garden a lot less, will their populations stabilise or drop without our help?
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • MikeOxgreenMikeOxgreen Posts: 689
    I saw an advert for this and thought it was a bit stupid. Tell me why it isn't.
    I really don't see the point in reporting birds seen in one daytime hour on one day in Winter, it's 10pm as I write and I can tell you what they will be; Dunnocks, blue tits, blackbirds, Wrens, Robin. That's it.

    What about all the others I see at other times which come and go? The owls that come out at night?
    Probably I see about 15 -20 species during the year, but I won't tomorrow.

  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 13,244
    edited 27 January
    Maybe because 800000 people do it and over the years it has shown significant changes in some birds.
    it is the largest citizen science project in  the world and should be cherished.
    Obviously it is not supposed to be a record of all birds.
    There are ashtrays of emulsion,
    for the fag ends of the aristocracy.

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • wild edgeswild edges Posts: 9,041
    It's not the only long-term bird survey, it just happens to be the one that gets the most engagement because it doesn't require much dedication and is a great entry level bit of citizen science for people of all ages. Tawney owls have had their own survey. The Breeding Bird Survey that the BTO run has much less engagement at the moment but is also a really useful survey if you want to be more thorough. I've seen 50 species of birds already this year without traveling far from my house. Surveys like this help to expand people's perception of the natural world and start to think about birds beyond the 'little brown job' ID level.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,740
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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