The Big Garden Birdwatch

I didn’t find one of these on my Big Garden Birdwatch!

Myrtle Warbler, Durham, February 2014
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Bromley

I went to see a Myrtle Warbler on the 9th of Feb 2014, which I’d never seen before. It is from North America, and at this time of year should be wintering in South America. Two children spotted it whilst doing the Big Garden Birdwatch and, not recognising it, took a photo and sent their mum to the nearest RSPB reserve to identify it. They then kept quiet about it until local birders put coconut feeders filled with fat in a hedge to lure it away from their garden.

Myrtle Warbler twitch, Durham, February 2014
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Bromley

The feeders were a bit obscured by some brambles but we managed to see the bird well in the end, and also managed to fit some Waxwings into the equation! There was a collection bucket for the local school and the RSPB. The twitch raised over £1100.

Waxwing, Durham, February 2014
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

I also did the Big Garden Birdwatch, once with my friend and once with my parents. In my garden the best bird we saw was a Marsh Tit, but we saw plenty of other things too, like a flock of 20 Goldfinch.

At Guides, mum and dad came in and did a bird workshop to go towards our RSPB badge. During the evening we did a bird ID game which I helped with, made feeders and encouraged people to do the Big Garden Birdwatch. I only mention it because the feeder I made was the only one the Marsh Tit fed on!

The Big Garden Birdwatch is important because it helps the RSPB examine the population of bird species in the UK. For example, the RSPB magazine shows the Woodpigeon population has gone up by 923% since 1979 but the Blue Tit population has only gone up by 8%. Or, if you want to look at the glass-half-empty side of things, the Greenfinches are -34% since then, and sadly Starlings are -83%. In my area, the most noticeable decrease is the House Sparrows that used to feed in our garden in winter, but sadly are now rarely sighted. Their numbers in the UK have dropped by 63%.

It’s funny to think my Dad did it when he was 11. It’s obviously been going for a long time!

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