Nature charity RSPB Northern Ireland is encouraging local people to take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey later this month.
The Big Garden Birdwatch is a chance for everyone to help nature by donating just one hour to count the birds and other wildlife in their gardens or local areas. The data gathered from this survey provides a vital health-check of the wildlife that we share our homes with.
In 2016 around half a million people counted the feathered friends in their patch, including a record 35,000 people across Northern Ireland. Starlings swooped into top spot here after being seen in almost 70 per cent of gardens and green spaces.
Now this year, for the first time, the charity is extending the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend by another day to give even more people the chance to get involved.
To take part, just spend one hour counting the birds you see at any time during 28, 29 or 30 January. You can use the online bird counting tool to identify and record the birds as you see them directly on your laptop, tablet or smartphone. Or, if you’ve registered in advance, you can fill in a paper survey form and post it back to the RSPB. They’d also love you to log some of the other wildlife you see in your garden – from squirrels to hedgehogs.
As temperatures drop, the natural food available for wildlife becomes scarcer and so birds are more likely to visit our gardens in the hope of supplementing their diets. RSPB NI recommends providing a mix of food sources like seeds, peanuts, sunflower hearts and suet balls to help them keep their energy up during the winter months.
Register to take part in Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 now at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. Children can also get involved by counting the birds which visit their school grounds until 17 February. Teachers can get involved in Big Schools’ Birdwatch at www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.
Top ten bird species spotted in NI during Big Garden Birdwatch 2016:
2. House Sparrow
4. Blue Tit
6. Great Tit
10. Coal Tit
The Big Garden Birdwatch isn't just restricted to your garden why not visit your favourite walking spot and record any sightings? Top Spots to do the Big Garden Birdwatch around Northern Ireland:
Belfast's Window on Wildlife
Lough Neagh Discovery Centre
Crawfordsburn Country Park
*Please note admission is chargeable at some of these lcoations. Please contact each site directly got information on prices and opening times.