THE countdown has commenced for the world’s biggest garden wildlife survey – and more people in Cumbria than ever before are being called upon to take part.
The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch takes place over January 25-26 and is now in its 35th year.
RSPB organisers says the popular event is fun for all ages and it couldn’t be easier to take part.
Simply count the birds in your garden or local park for one hour over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend and tell the RSPB what you see – but this year, there is a difference.
For the first time ever in the event’s history, the RSPB wants to hear about the other wildlife which snuffles and settles in your garden or local park, to create an even better picture of what is happening to our wildlife.
To help you prepare for the Big Garden Birdwatch, there are events taking place in Cumbria throughout January – from discovering how to attract more wildlife into your garden to gaining tips on how to recognise the creatures which live on your doorstep.
You can join the RSPB at Whinlatter Visitor Centre in Keswick and Grizedale Visitor Centre in Ambleside on Saturday January 25 and Sunday January 26 to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch.
The free events will run from 11 am to 4 pm both days, with staff and volunteers on hand in the visitor centres to show you how to get involved and make your own bird feeders. Booking is essential.
There are also events the weekend before at Leighton Moss on January 18-19, see http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/leightonmoss/
Jo Keene, RSPB People Engagement Manager in Northern England, said: “Whether this is the first time you’re taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch or you are an expert, there are plenty of ways to prepare and it’s a great opportunity to appreciate the wildlife where you live. Not forgetting it’s a brilliant feeling to be part of the world’s biggest wildlife survey – without having to leave the sofa!
“Over half a million people took part last year, which is fantastic, helping to provide the RSPB with a vital snapshot of garden bird numbers in winter and highlight any dramatic declines – but this year we are calling for even more people to count the wildlife as UK nature is in trouble.
“It’s not just the birds which need our help; almost half our hedgehogs have disappeared in the last 25 years. So although we still want you to count our feathered friends during the hour, as they are a brilliant indicator of the health of our countryside, we also want to hear if you have ever seen other wildlife such as badgers, squirrels or frogs in your garden or local park.
"It really is a great chance to become a wildlife detective and help build a picture of how important our gardens are for giving a nature a home.”
A brand new Big Garden Birdwatch website has been launched this month and this year, participants will be able to record the birds as they see them directly onto a laptop, tablet or smartphone with an online bird counting tool or send results in the post.
To help attract wildlife into your garden, there are plenty of tips for helping to give nature a home where you live on the RSPB website.
Register to take part in Big Garden Birdwatch 2014 and find out more information about Big Garden Birdwatch events near you at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.
Alternatively, call 0300 456 8330.
The Top 10 birds seen in Cumbria in the 2013 survey were as follows
1 House sparrow
4 Blue tit
6 Great tit
7 Coal tit
10 Long tailed tit