Ahead of the Big Garden Birdwatch, we're sharing some tips and our favourite footwear suggestions to get you off to a flying start!
What is the Big Garden Birdwatch?
January 26th to 28th marks this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, the world’s largest garden wildlife survey.
Over the last few years, there’s been a serious decline in our British garden birds, caused by intensive farming practises and fertiliser. This is why the Big Garden Birdwatch is so important, as it helps provide a snapshot of how well our garden birds are doing in the UK.
How can I get involved?
Getting involved is easy! All you need is an hour spare over the weekend to count the different species of birds that land in your garden. For more information on how you can get involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch, take a look over at their website.
Now, you might think January is an odd time for bird watching, but there’s a very logical reason why mid-winter is the perfect time for bird spotting. In the depths of winter, when it’s super cold, this is when the birds need us the most! They flock to our gardens looking for food and shelter, which makes it the ideal time for us to get out and spot them.
Don’t worry, we know what you’re thinking, January’s a wee bit chilly to be standing around in the bushes all day. We agree. That’s why the Big Garden Birdwatch is so great. It’s a wholesome, stimulating way to spend your weekend that can be done from the cosy comfort of your own home, no wellies needed. In fact, we might be able to offer a more suitable pair of shoes… Shop Slippers
Keen to get into bird watching but unsure where to start?
Q. Let’s start at the top, where are your favourite bird-watching spots?
‘My absolute favourite place to watch the birds is actually our garden shed! It’s lovely to take a pot of tea up there and spend an hour watching our feathered visitors. Langford Lakes is another spot we often like to visit. If you’re based in Wiltshire, it would make a lovely day out, it has four beautiful lakes and bird hides (plus a great café!)'
Q. What are the best times of day to go birdwatching?
‘Anytime you can! But to spot the most birds, I always find sunrise and sunset are the best!’
Q. Can you tell us, what’s in your birdwatching bag?
‘Binoculars (of course), sandwiches (preferably egg and cress), and a flask of coffee (always). It’s also good to take a book to help you identify anything you spot. There are also some great free Apps like the ‘Merlin’ bird app, which listens to the birdsong around you and shows you suggestions for who’s singing!’
Q. What sort of footwear would you recommend for bird watching?
‘Comfort is the main thing. If you’re out in the countryside, then you need something comfortable, splash-resistant, and non-slip. You need a pair of comfortable walking shoes that will keep your feet warm and dry. I prefer proper walking boots that have a gripped sole and ankle support. Wellies are also great, especially if you’re in and around muddy swamplands. I always opt for a warm pair of wellies that have a cosy fleece lining.'
Q. What are your top tips for birdwatching beginners?
‘It’s incredibly difficult to spot birds by just scanning with binoculars. The trick is to scan with the naked eye, then when you spot something, bring your binoculars up to your eyes without moving your head - you should then be reasonably spot on.’
‘It’s great to spot unusual birds of course. But don’t ignore the more common species that you see in your garden. House Sparrows, Starlings, Blackbirds, and Robins are all lovely birds and you can learn a lot about bird behaviour from observing them. The Big Garden Birdwatch would be a great starting point if you wanted to learn more!’
Learn more about how to attract birds to your garden.
Q. Finally, we can’t let you go without asking, what has been your most exciting spot?
‘We spent a couple of hours at Hen Reedbeds near Southwold. We were treated to a fabulous view of a Marsh Harrier! It flew close to the hide we were in- it was such an amazing experience!
‘A Tree Pipet at Harmony Wood. It’s a difficult bird to spot and identify, but with a lot of patience we finally saw the little fella singing his heart out.’