RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch returns to Sussex

RSPB Big Birdwatch, picture by Eleanor Bentall
RSPB Big Birdwatch, picture by Eleanor Bentall

Birds in Sussex are to be counted as school children and wildlife enthusiasts take part in the annual Big Garden Birdwatch.

For the last 40 years, thousands of people across East and West Sussex have been donating an hour of their time to help make the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch the world’s largest citizen science project.

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2019, watch the birds in your garden, balcony or local green space for an hour at some point over January 26, 27 and 28 and record those you see land.

For four decades the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has used the Big Garden Birdwatch to highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world and it is hoped this year will be no different.

Nic Scothern, RSPB regional director for the South East, said: “I love taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch, and I’m always surprised by how many different birds there are right outside my own kitchen window. Just taking sixty minutes to pause and actively look at nature gives me a fresh perspective on my own surroundings. It feels good to be part of something to help save nature”

“We can all do more to Give Nature a Home and our online activities will help you prepare for January’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Thanks to everyone who has participated over the past four decades we were able to identify and address a massive fall in the number of house sparrows. I’m delighted to say we’re now seeing their numbers slowly increase across the south east. Fingers crossed this year shows that trend continue, but we’ll only know that if people spare us an hour and contribute to the survey.”

For more information or to sign up for the Big Garden Birdwatch visit www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch

As well as the Big Garden Birdwatch, school children across East and West Sussex are also being offered the opportunity to turn into conservation scientists and take part in the world’s biggest schools’ wildlife survey.

Launched in 2002, the Big Schools’ Birdwatch is also run by the RSPB and has seen thousands of children watch and count the birds which visit their outdoor spaces in the winter months, before sending the results to the RSPB.

This year, they are also being encouraged to fill up bird feeders, turn classrooms into bird hides and create wildlife-friendly bakes in preparation.

The 2019 Birdwatch can be run by teachers on any day during the first half of the spring term, but comes to a close on February 22.

According to the RSPB, the intention is to provide a chance for our children to put down their books and discover the nature that lives in their local community. Teachers have the flexibility to run their school’s Birdwatch as a one-off event or as the centre piece of a cross-curricular study, project work or a way for the children in their class to improve their outdoor space.

An RSPB spokesperson said many schools prepare for the event in advance by taking measures to give nature a home in their school grounds.

She said: “Big Schools’ Birdwatch is a simple bird survey for pupils to take part in and enjoy together. This activity is about counting the number of birds in your school grounds.

“Seeing and counting the birds coming to their feeders during the Big Schools Birdwatch is the perfect reward for their efforts.”

The Big Schools’ Birdwatch is the school version of the Big Garden Birdwatch, the world’s biggest garden wildlife survey. This year, it takes place on January 26, 27 and 28. It is also part of the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign, which aims to tackle the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife by inviting people to provide a place for wildlife in their gardens, outside spaces and school grounds.

Schools interested in taking part in the Birdwatch and helping the next generation of children start their own wildlife adventure are invited to visit rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch to find out more.

Registration is open until February 7 and results should be submitted by February 22.

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To see what was in the top 10 of last year’s Birdwatch in the south east click here.