If you didn’t know already, the Big Butterfly Count is once again running this month until the 12th August.
I have noticed a lot more butterflies (particularly whites) flying around this summer compared to last year, so thought the count would be a great way of noting and identifying what I see. I chose to do my fifteen minute count on a walk around my local cemetery, which I have written about numerous times! It is a lovely old grade II listed site, which is no longer used for new burials but is open all year round for visitors to walk around the 12+ hectares and admire the wildflower areas which are there to “maintain and protect a decreasing inner-city habitat and monitor native flora and fauna within the cemetery”. I therefore thought that this would be an ideal area for counting butterflies!
The idea behind the survey is that you count the highest number of one species you see at the same time (if you are in one spot like a garden) or if on a walk like I was, then to add up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes. I started by heading towards a large patch of lavender as I knew there would be several there and as anticipated there were quite a few, but not as many as the bees – of which there must have been at least 70! It was a wonderful sight to see, after having seen so many struggling in the heat this year.
Anyway, the first butterfly I saw was a pretty little Common Blue, followed quickly by many Whites (my ID skills led me to settle on 14x Large and 8x Small). These were mainly in pairs. I then walked back via a shaded area to see what else I could count and I managed to spot 6x Speckled Wood butterflies and a further two orangey-brown medium butterflies fluttering in a spiral together, but they were too quick to identify so I did not log those.
It is a really enjoyable activity to do on your own or with others, whether it be during your lunch break, on the way to work and when you are out and about at the weekend. City or countryside, it doesn’t matter – all you need is the free app or the handy identification chart and something to note down your sightings to log online. If you would like to take part, you can find out more about the project here. In the meantime, why not check out my post about last year’s results!
If you are buzzing about the start of #30DaysWild tomorrow, then here is something you can begin with! Friends of the Earth are once again running their bee survey until the end of June, so you have 30 days to get involved.
All you have to do is download the free app, which is really easy to find, and then simply follow the steps:
- Wherever you are, whenever you spot a bee, open the app and click ‘submit a bee sighting’
- If possible, take a photo of the bee
- Use the ID guide in the app to find out which species of bee you have seen
- Record the weather and habitat that the bee is in
- Enter your postcode or GPS location
- Submit your sighting
There is clear evidence that bees are still declining, after a loss of 13 bee species in the UK since 1900! Taking part in the Great British Bee Count can help build a detailed picture of the bee species around the country to inform the government, local authorities and researchers to make decisions and take the vital steps needed to hopefully reverse the decline. I think this is a brilliant bit of citizen science, which not only helps wildlife, but also encourages learning and improves our identification skills and knowledge.
I have downloaded the app and will be recording my sightings throughout the #30DaysWild month. Will you do the same?
At the end of January, the RSPB held their 39th Big Garden Birdwatch, and for the third year running I took part. Although my watch wasn’t particularly inspiring, 420,489 results were submitted across the UK and a fantastic 6,764,475 birds were counted in total!
The overall results have been published and the 2018 top 10 garden birds are:
- House sparrow (non-mover)
- Starling (non-mover)
- Blue tit (up one place)
- Blackbird (down one place)
- Woodpigeon (non-mover)
- Goldfinch (non-mover)
- Great tit (up one place)
- Robin (down one place)
- Long-tailed tit (up one place)
- Chaffinch (down one place)
This is another great year of results for the RSPB to use along with previous data to determine which species need help, and which species are thriving.
Next year will be the Big Garden Birdwatch’s 40th anniversary, so I am hoping for big things and another big count!
Last weekend was the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and I chose Saturday to do my count. Unintentionally, I always seem to pick the day with the worst weather and this year was no exception – drizzly and windy! As planned though, this year’s count was done in my grandma’s garden (2016 was at my mum’s and last year was at my in-law’s) as I am very interested to see the results from different locations.
© the Green & the Wild
My grandma has been putting food out over winter, so after ensuring there was plenty on the grass and in the feeder, I sat in her conservatory between 11:30am – 12:30pm expecting to at least see my grandma’s regular garden visitors (2 woodpigeons and 2 magpies), but all I counted in the whole hour was a fleeting visit from a single blackbird and one woodpigeon!
As it is just as important to record no birds as it is many birds, I wasn’t disappointed but my grandma was keen for me to see the regulars, so later that afternoon once the weather had cleared up, we had another ‘birdwatch’ and would you believe it, within five minutes the lawn was crowded with two blackbirds, one of the two regular magpies and three woodpigeons, one of which was a juvenile which I found very sweet as the whole family was out for dinner together!
Did you take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this year? If so, please share with us what you counted and of course, don’t forget to submit your results!
It’s January… the month of predicted snow showers and welcoming hygge… but also time to get your binoculars out and fill up your bird feeders, as the Big Garden Birdwatch is once again upon us!
That’s right, the RSPB is holding their annual birdwatch from 27th – 29th of this month and they want you to get involved. You can request a FREE pack on their website now and that’s it, you will be set to take part in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey! On your chosen day, simply get comfy in your garden, a room with a good view outside, your local park or green space and count the birds that you see in a single hour, making sure you jot down the maximum number of each species you see at any one time. Once the hour is up, you will then have to log your results on the Big Garden Birdwatch website or post your paper form (within three weeks) for the RSPB to collate and analyse!
By taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, you will play a vital role in the health of the UK’s wildlife and even help “change the fortunes of an entire species“. There’s nothing to lose! Last year around 500,000 people took part in the birdwatch and I think we can beat that amazing figure this year – so join me in being a citizen scientist and request your pack today!
“Gardens can prove a real life-saver for birds at this time of year, especially when it is frosty or snowy“, so if you are eager to count lots of birds during the survey and need some inspiration on how to attract them into your garden during the cold months (as well as all year round), check out the RSPB’s gardening tips!
Tomorrow is the start of this year’s ‘Big Butterfly Count‘ – a nationwide survey (and the world’s largest butterfly survey) held by the British charity, Butterfly Conservation and Waitrose, to gain an understanding of the health of our environment. Counting butterflies helps determine natural health as they “react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators“. If we begin to see a reduction in butterfly numbers and/or species, it could warn us of other wildlife declines.
To take part, you simply have to count the butterflies that you see in any location within a 15 minute time period. Like the Big Garden Birdwatch, if you are counting in a single area, you should count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. However, if you decide to count the butterflies you see on a 15 minute walk for example, then you can add up the number of each species that you come across.
Your results, even if you see no butterflies, will not only support the environmental health assessment, but also help the charity identify species’ trends and consequently develop protection plans.
To help you with your 15 minute butterfly count, you can download a useful identification chart from the Butterfly Conservation! Once your sightings have been tallied up, you then simply have to submit your results online or via the free Big Butterfly Count app.
The Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday 14 July to Sunday 6 August, so if you find yourself with a spare 15 minutes, do something wild, get counting and have fun!
© Peacock Butterfly
If you remember from My Big Garden Birdwatch Results blog post at the end of January, I took part in the RSPB’s annual birdwatch, and I am sure many of you did too! The RSPB has been collecting and counting the results from over half a million people over the last couple of months and the results are now available here!
The top 10 birds of 2017:
- House sparrow
- Blue tit
- Great tit
- Long tailed tit
Over 8 million birds were counted, with some interesting results. Goldfinch, blackbird and robin numbers have all increased over the last 10 years. Waxwing sightings were very high this year (I wish I had seen one) due to “a lack of berries in their native Scandinavia” prompting them to travel to the UK, even as far west as Wales and Ireland!
Along with the increases though, there unfortunately had to be some decreases! Surprisingly sightings of blue tits, great tits and coal tits were all down by at least 10% on last year’s figures. Also since the first RSPB Garden Birdwatch in 1979, greenfinch, starling and chaffinch numbers have all dropped too (despite the latter two being in this year’s top 10).
The RSPB is a brilliant charity and by running the Big Garden Birdwatch, they not only encourage people to take an interest in wildlife and give nature a home, but also allow us to know and understand which birds are doing well and which are not. We can then help, take action, monitor and hopefully make a difference!
So the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is complete! I hope you all had a wonderful time identifying and counting the birds and wildlife in your gardens or local parks.
This year I completed the survey at my in-laws house who live further out of the city. Last year, at my childhood home, the birds played a trick on me and decided not to land, meaning I only counted a handful of birds. I therefore wanted to see whether the location difference would affect my results. As you may know from my post about the Robin, my own back yard is pretty small and bird-less. I have a bird feeder and occasionally put out dried meal-worms, but do not want to encourage many birds as both of my neighbours have cats. Luckily though, my Birdwatch location had several well-used feeders out ready, so it was as simple as pulling up a chair to the window, getting comfy with a cup of tea and waiting for the birds to arrive. The hour ‘flew’ by and I managed to record twelve birds in total (from the garden and surrounding trees): 1 great tit, 1 robin, 1 blue tit, 4 woodpigeons, 2 house sparrows, 1 female blackbird, 1 collared dove and 1 carrion crow. Throughout the rest of the day, many more birds landed in the garden including a wren, and the female blackbird returned on several occasions (she is a regular apparently). A plump squirrel also made an appearance and stayed long enough for me to take a few photographs!
© The lovely robin and squirrel who visited the garden during this year’s Birdwatch.
4, 383, 224 birds have been counted and submitted to the RSPB so far and I am really interested to see the final results from mid-February. The results will help the RSPB find out what wildlife is thriving and what is in trouble, ultimately leading to “action to put things right”. The survey started back in 1979 as a small children’s activity, but now has over half a million people taking part each year! With the 38th year of data now being collated by the RSPB, the insight into UK wildlife is more accurate than ever… and it has already provided some fascinating information, for example between 2006 and 2016, the UK song thrush population decreased by a staggering 98% whereas the UK goldfinch population increased by an impressive 89%. As of 2014, respondents have also been asked about other wildlife as well a birds in their gardens, so a greater picture is beginning to be painted UK-wide!
Did you take part this year? If so, what birds and other wildlife did you record?
It is that time of year again… the clouds are grey, the air is chilly, but there are things to make us smile and feel warm inside. The days are slowly starting to get longer, Winterwatch is back on our screens next week and of course, the RSPB is holding the Big Garden Birdwatch from the 28th – 30th January.
The Big Garden Birdwatch helps to build a picture of garden wildlife across the UK and we can all be part of the world’s largest wildlife survey! I took part for the first time last year and had so much fun, despite only counting a handful of birds (it was a cold, windy day). Amazingly, more than 519,000 people all over the UK took part in the survey and counted an incredible 8,262,662 birds over the weekend! The top three spotted were the house sparrow, starling and blue tit. I wonder what the top three will be this year!?
It is easy to do and is great for any age. Just find a comfortable spot, inside by a window (which I am going to do this year), outside in your garden or even a park. Then over a single hour on any of the three days, simply count the maximum number of each species that you see at any one time. For example, if you see three blue tits together, and later you see four, and after that two, the number to submit is four (not nine). This makes it less likely that you will double-count the same birds.
I have already registered and received my pack. If you would like to join me and thousands of others to count the wildlife that is counting on us, you can request a pack here. If you order it to be sent by post, the RSPB also kindly sends a few little goodies including a coaster, packet of coffee and a lovely recipe for some biscuits (which are delicious – yes I have already baked some).
I will be blogging about my experience and survey results after the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend and would love to hear your results too!