19 December, 2015 01:00
NOW is the time to make a pledge to kick off 2016 by doing something great for nature from the comfort of your own home. The RSPB Northern Ireland's annual Big Garden Birdwatch, the world's largest garden wildlife survey, celebrates its 37th year on the weekend of January 30 and 31.
What I love about this event is that it provides a way for veteran and novice nature buffs to spend time appreciating wildlife in their own backyards while helping to provide information on the wellbeing of our best-known bird species across the north.
“It couldn't be easier to take part in the survey. Pick up a survey leaflet from your local RSPB NI nature reserve during January or register at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch. Then make yourself a cuppa, grab a biscuit and spend one hour during the Birdwatch weekend counting the visitors to your garden,” says spokeswoman Amy Colvin.
Last year more than 22,000 in Northern Ireland took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch and of the 127,700 birds they counted, house sparrows were the most commonly seen.
The Big Garden Birdwatch also asks participants to record other garden wildlife, including hedgehogs and squirrels. See rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.
Also, teachers and pupils should take note that they can take part in Big Schools' Birdwatch between January 4 and February 12. More at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch.
Meanwhile, the latest assessment of the status of all the UK's 244 birds, entitled Birds of Conservation Concern 4, shows that 67 species are now classed as being of 'highest conservation concern'.