It’s the end of November which means:
the Irish Garden Bird Survey starts next week!
If I sound excited, it’s because I am. I love taking part in this; it’s important data collection for BirdWatch Ireland, but it’s also a really nice project to work on over the winter that gives you something to look out for in a sparse winter garden. I would encourage anyone with a garden or outdoor space to take part, particularly this year when we’re all looking for something to do without leaving the house.
For 30 years BirdWatch Ireland have run a garden bird survey from December to February, where people at home count the birds in their garden and report back their findings. This is great data to gain an insight into local bird populations, their behaviours and the environment itself.
The survey starts on Monday 30th November and you can sign up here: Irish Garden Bird Survey – BirdWatch Ireland
What does it involve?
Basically, all you have to do is look at your garden for birds. The survey has a list of different garden birds and you can mark down how many you saw. At the end of every week, write down the largest number of that bird you saw at the same time.
So, if you see two Goldfinches in the morning and three in the evening, then the highest number you’ve seen at any one time is three – so that’s your count ‘to beat’ for the rest of the week. Three is the number for that week, unless you see a higher number at any one time later in the week. Start fresh the next week then!Birdwatch Ireland website
Similarly, if you see one Robin today and one Robin tomorrow – the highest number at any one time is still just one.
Never sum up birds seen at different times of the day, or on different days.
Why should I do this though?
It’s great fun looking for birds in the garden and trying to identify them, trying to beat my record for the week. By measuring wildlife it encourages me to pay attention to the outdoors and notice that there is actually stuff going on out there, even during winter. It’s extremely easy to lock yourself in the house and lose a connection to nature during the abysmally short days of Irish winter, and I know it’s going to be worse this year with the added Covid regulations. I really look forward to doing this survey every year and getting to spend time over my breakfast to count goldfinches, it’s just remarkably pleasant. Plus, there is not much to match the excitement level of looking out one morning and finding a hawk on the bird-feeders!
Click on the image below to go to the BirdWatch Ireland website if you’re interested in learning more or taking part!