Take part in weekend bird-watching weekend

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Over half a million people will be taking part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey this weekend, the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

Thousands of people took part in Buckinghamshire gardens in 2011 helping to find out how garden birds are faring.

This winter has seen temperatures go from mild to freezing and back again, with ice, snow, wind rain thrown into the mix.

And after two cold winters before it, the wildlife charity is eager to find out what this year’s confusing weather will mean for our garden birds.

RSPB’s Sarah Houghton said: “The last few months have been anything but predictable so it will be interesting to see what kinds of birds people are seeing this weekend, and in what numbers.

“With plenty of natural food still about, some of the usual suspects might be a bit elusive, but heavy rain and strong winds could send other surprises our way.

“And spring-like signs might even be inspiring early breeding activities. There’s already been lots of evidence of birds recce-ing potential nest sites so whatever the weather, it’ll be a busy time.”

The RSPB is asking everyone to take part by picking an hour this weekend to record the birds they see, and feed their results back.

And they are urging everyone to submit their results, even if the numbers of birds they see might seem a bit low.

Sarah added: “We want to know what you see whether its a hundred birds or two birds, regardless of whether this is typical for your garden. We add up all the counts to work out the overall results.

“With over half a million people sending us their data this will help us build an important stock take of what’s happening in gardens this year. We can then compare these counts with others from previous years and note any changes.”

he mild and wet weather has meant a different atmosphere in UK gardens and calls to the RSPB’s wildlife enquiries team shows that it’s having an impact on wildlife too.

RSPB wildlife advisor Val Osborne, said: “We are very mindful that a late cold snap could be a real shock for the birds but the food we all put out can make a real difference to see birds through the winter.”

The RSPB is reminding people to be prepared with good quality bird food and clean, hygienic feeding stations. February can be the harshest month of the year.

This is the time when birds should be getting well fed to get in shape for the breeding season. Good energy supplies now give them the best chance of producing healthy young.

Martin Harper, the RSPB’s Conservation Director, said: “We all know how dreary it can be at this time of year and with the economy in such bad shape, why don’t you cheer yourself up by doing Big Garden Birdwatch? Sit down with a cuppa and watch from your windows. You’re really going to enjoy the wonderful world of nature out there.”

To step up for nature and take part, simply spend one hour over the weekend of 28-29 January, counting the birds in your garden or local park, and record the highest number of each bird species seen at any one time.

Visit the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch for more information and to submit your results online.

Pre-registration is open until Friday and those pre-registering will get a 10% discount for bird food and feeders from the RSPB online shop.

A variety of bird care items including food and feeders are available from www.rspbshop.co.uk.