The BIG Garden Bird Watch

Hi! I’m Caitlin Harris, one of the Biodiversity Ambassadors at the University.

Living in the centre of a built-up city such as Leeds, I am always surprised to hear birds outside my window.

As lockdown continues it can be easy to find ourselves lost in the digital world, essay writing, online lectures, social media or Netflix. I personally feel like my life has become more digitalised and with it a sense of loss from the natural world. I often find taking some time out of my day to notice the wildlife can be really enjoyable and have a big impact on my mental health.

However, all is not lost!  If, like me, you need to have some ‘nature time’, then you will be relieved to hear that the RSPB BIG Garden Birdwatch is returning for its 42nd year! Whilst a lot of things have changed in our lives recently, this citizen science project can be done from your bedroom window. Wherever you are, I encourage you to stop for a second and listen. Can you hear any birds from where you are right now? If you stop, open the window and focus for just five minutes, you will most likely hear a bird from somewhere nearby and what you hear and record can help the RSPB in keeping their national species database up to date.

The event takes place from the 29th-31st January. So call on your housemates, your friends and your family to join in. You could even facetime people who live separately from you and do it at the same time!

Why get involved?

Since the project began in 1979, the public have contributed over nine million hours of bird watching, counting over 137 million birds. This amount of information is invaluable for tracking changes in bird populations and distributions. The project highlights specific species that are struggling and can help scientists find ways to protect them. One hour of bird watching from your window really can contribute a massive amount!

This year RSPB are also introducing the Big Garden Birdwatch LIVE! They will be sharing photos, videos, facts, quizzes and answering questions throughout the weekend. Feel free to join at any point during the weekend hear about some of the amazing wildlife across the UK! If you manage to get any photos of birds, you can share them online with the #BigGardenBirdwatch.

Even though we are all still in lockdown, there are still opportunities to engage with wildlife from your own home. I’d also like to remind you of the live camera feed of the peregrine box on Parkinson tower, you can access the feed on the Peregrines webpage, keep an eye out on this to see if you can spot any peregrines over the next few weeks!

Close up of peregrine with wings up

How to get involved?

Getting involved is really quick, easy and free! Simply register on the RSPB webpage then choose one hour anywhere within the 29th-31st January to sit down and count all of the birds you can see from your window or garden and submit your results to the RSPB. Remember – no data is still data, so, if you didn’t see any birds in your hour, still submit that as your result. All of the details and more information (including resources for identifying birds) can be found on the RSPB website.  If you, like me, are also based in Leeds, you can also submit your findings via biodiversity@leeds.ac.uk so we can add your findings to our data for the city.

So, join me and millions of others by contributing to this national project right from your own home! We look forward to seeing your photos!

Caitlin

About the University Biodiversity Ambassadors

The University Biodiversity Ambassadors are a group of dedicated student volunteers.  Their main role is to run a number of species monitoring activities at the University.  The data informs decision-making at the University and is part of the Living Lab programme.  If you would like to find out more, or get involved in the work they do, you can contact them by emailing: biodiversity@leeds.ac.uk

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