Feathers are-a-flutter in Britain’s world of birds, with a number of avarian events taking place over the next few weeks. Indeed, just this past weekend, avid birdwatchers participated in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2014, the world’s largest bird survey. Last year, 590 000 people took part, counting a whopping 8.2 million different birds. Results from this year’s survey will be released later on this year. We thought it was the perfect time to give our essential birdwatching tips.
The Big Schools Birdwatch, meanwhile, is currently taking place, and will run until 14 February. As the name suggests, school-age children are encouraged to visit local outdoor areas or simply explore their school grounds, and count the number of different bird species that they see. According to The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), bird populations are a good indication of the health of an ecosystem, which is why the annual bird counting events are so important.
National Nest Box Week
National Next Box Week will be taking place from 14 – 21 February, and encourages people to install nest boxes in their gardens or local areas. According to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), who have organised the event since 1997, the natural nest sites on which many bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, have gradually disappeared as woods are tidied and houses repaired. As a result, the nest boxes are intended to compensate for this loss. The BTO estimate that there are around 5-6 million boxes in gardens across the UK.
The official website contains a handy guide detailing exactly how to build a next box, and an explanation of which birds are likely to use the different kinds of boxes. The nest box project is a great DIY task to cross off your list, and helps UK conservation efforts to boot!
Birdwatching in the UK
There are a number of fantastic spots across the UK where you can spot a feathered specimen or two.
- Insh Marshes National Nature Reserve: From whooper swans and greylag geese, to lapwings and redshanks, this beautiful wildlife reserve near Kingussie in Scotland is home to a wide variety of bird species. Entry to the reserve is free, and they have a number of woodland trails and guided walks available.
- Exminster and Powderham Marshes: The marshes provide an important resting and feeding area for migrating birds that fly there for the winter season. This reserve is located close to Exeter, in Devon, and is a great spot for year-round birdwatching.
- WWT London Wetland Centre: This centre is a fantastic option for keen birdwatchers, with six wildlife viewing hides installed around the wetland area, offering visitors the chance to see a number of different bird species up close in their natural habitat.
- Rutland Water Nature Reserve: The annual British Birdwatching Fair is held at this location, and it has been designated as a European Special Protection Area and internationally recognised as a globally important wetland RAMSAR site. Created in the 1970s, the reserve covers around 1000 acres and contains 31 bird watching hides and nature trails.
- Ramsey Island: This stunning offshore island is home to a number of breeding seabirds during spring and summer. With soaring cliffs, wonderful sea views and colourful coastal heathland, Ramsey Island is a perfect spot for birdwatching.
If you’re looking for birdwatching club in the UK, then Birdwatch.co.uk has a great directory you can search through to find one nearest your location. There are also some great birdwatching apps available – The RSPB eGuide to British Birds, The Birds of Britain and UK Birds – to name but a few.
If you’re venturing around on trails in search of an elusive bird specimen, or hunkered down in one spot, patiently waiting for a feathery visitor, you’re going to need gear that keeps you warm, dry and comfortable. Dickies lightweight fleeces are just the thing for chilly weather, and come in a range of styles, colours and sizes.
Finally, a pair of good, sturdy safety boots is a must if you’re going to be hiking along a birdwatching trail. The Medway Super Safety Hiker is one of DickiesStore’s most popular footwear options, and offers great comfort, durability and protection.
Got any birdwatching spots that you’d like to share with others? Let us know in the comments below