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RSPB’s national bird survey ensures thousands connect with nature

PUBLISHED: 18:15 28 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:30 28 January 2018

Thousands of people have been taking part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. Picture: Nick Butcher

Thousands of people have been taking part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Binoculars were at the ready as thousands of people across the region took part in an important national birdwatching event.

As part of the event, All Saints Church in Hemblington hosted its own Big Churchyard Birdwatch. Picture: Nick Butcher As part of the event, All Saints Church in Hemblington hosted its own Big Churchyard Birdwatch. Picture: Nick Butcher

Now in its 39th year, the RSPB’s The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s biggest wildlife survey and encourages people to spot and count as many birds as possible.

The figures accumulated between January 27 and 29 will allow the bird protection charity to gain a greater understanding of how birds are populated in various habitats and environments.

As part of the annual event, All Saints Church in Hemblington hosted its very own ‘Big Churchyard Birdwatch’ for the third consecutive year on Saturday.

The RSPB wants to gain a greater understanding of how birds are populated in various habitats and environments. 

Picture: Nick Butcher The RSPB wants to gain a greater understanding of how birds are populated in various habitats and environments. Picture: Nick Butcher

Susan Rowe, secretary of The Friends of All Saints Church, emphasised her delight at the community’s contribution towards the crucial study.

She said: “I’ve been so pleased with the number of people who have taken part and to bring so many new people to the church is great for the community. These days we’re far more conscious about the importance of wildlife.

“The RSPB is keen to understand the population of different birds in all areas; for example, we’ll have different birds here compared to Norwich and Great Yarmouth.

Mike Jeffs takes part in the Big Garden Birdwatch at Hemblington Church.

 Picture: Nick Butcher Mike Jeffs takes part in the Big Garden Birdwatch at Hemblington Church. Picture: Nick Butcher

“We’ve got local naturalist David Bryant helping us to do the count and later we’ll submit our numbers to the RSPB.”

Also participating in the birdwatch was Simon Mutton, one of the church wardens. He explained why birdwatching at a church such as All Saints is so advantageous.

He said: “The church is in an ideal spot. Its height in comparison to its surroundings really lends itself to this kind of activity.

Bryony Barrett and her her children Isla and Alfie enjoying the Big Garden Birdwatch. 

Picture: Nick Butcher Bryony Barrett and her her children Isla and Alfie enjoying the Big Garden Birdwatch. Picture: Nick Butcher

“This is the definition of a country church and by taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch we can help the RSPB to understand what is happening to wildlife in these kinds of environments.”

Elsewhere in the region, residents at Hartismere Place care home in Eye also took the opportunity to connect with nature over the course of the weekend. Their participation epitomised the RSPB’s belief that anyone can be a birdwatcher, even from the comfort of their own armchair.

In addition, property developer Barratt and David Wilson Homes got behind the birdwatch by opening bird cafés at its Norfolk developments to encourage feathered friends into the area.

Local naturalist David Bryant was on hand to help participants with counting and identification. Picture: Nick Butcher Local naturalist David Bryant was on hand to help participants with counting and identification. Picture: Nick Butcher

What did we spot?

As keen birdwatchers and rookies alike gathered at All SaintS, it was time to see which species of bird had decided to flock to this Norfolk village to make nest.

Local naturalist David Bryant was on hand to assist those taking part with counting and identification.

A tally of birds spotted during the event at All Saints Church in Hemblington. 

Picture: Nick Butcher A tally of birds spotted during the event at All Saints Church in Hemblington. Picture: Nick Butcher

“The number of species we’ve seen is over 100 and it’s been great to see the community getting involved,” said Mr Bryant.

“This church is a real hidden gem and the perfect place to conduct a birdwatch.”

As we spoke to Mr Bryant, something grabs his attention in the adjacent field and he quickly enlists the aid of his binoculars. He informs us that the swooping bird of prey in question is a male marsh harrier.

Other birds spotted included three partridges and a mistle thrush, whose numbers have continually been on the decline in the UK over the last decade.

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