The world’s largest wildlife survey is happening this weekend and you can take part by looking out your window.
The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch runs from 29-31 January and involves the public collecting vital data for the conservation of some of Britain’s best-loved birds including in south west London.
Our feathered-friends have been a source of comfort for many in these difficult times and, according to RSPB’s Chief Executive Beccy Speight, it is time we returned the favour.
Speight said: “Lockdown brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people.
“By taking part in the Birdwatch, you are helping to build an annual snapshot of how our birdlife is doing across the UK.
“It is only by understanding how our wildlife is faring that we can protect it.”
Group leader for RSPB Richmond & Twickenham Clare Million said: “It is a great way for all ages to get involved.
“The identification guides are for the birds that you’re most likely to see and are quite straightforward. You absolutely don’t need to be an expert.”
Over 24,500 London residents took part in the birdwatch last year with house sparrows the most commonly spotted species, followed by blue tits and woodpigeon.
The survey helps to pick up important trends in bird populations, for example the blackbird which saw a 10% drop last year in numbers from 2019.
Million shared with us her top three birds to spot during the 42nd Big Garden Birdwatch in south west London:
Redwings are a winter resident in the UK. Often spotted in Richmond Park, these birds are a type of thrush and enjoy the seasonal berries on offer in the gardens and parks of south west London. Keep an eye out for their distinctive orangey-red flanks and underwings.
Some of south west London’s more controversial residents are thought to have arrived in the 1950s after a pair escaped from the film set of The African Queen. Since then these bright-green parakeets have bred precociously and are now a common, yet still exotic, site in suburban London.
The house sparrow may seem a common and fairly unremarkable bird, but according to Million, keeping track of its numbers is more important than ever.
She said: “Although house sparrows are our most common bird, the Big Garden Birdwatch has shown a 65% decline in their numbers over the past 15 years.
“A lack of food and suitable food and nest sites has really taken their toll. So, although they’re the most common bird, it’s really important to count them.”
RSPB Richmond & Twickenham Local Group offers a programme of regular talks on birds and other nature-related subjects for beginners and experienced nature lovers alike.
Covering from Sunbury to Putney, the group also organises local walks and trips further afield.
More information can be found on their website.
Photo credits: Feature image credit: Becky Matsubara (Robin) | Ben Hall (rspb-images.com) | House Sparrow: Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com) |Long-tailed Tit: Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com) | Mother and daughter counting birds: Eleanor Bentall (rspb-images.com)