Our team and visitors recently took part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch at Winterbourne to not only help UK conservation, but to also find out more about who we share the garden with. We asked Horticulture Trainee and avid birdwatcher, Jack, to give us a summary of our findings.
The Big Garden Birdwatch is an annual survey undertaken by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and is one of the biggest citizen science projects around. Using data from gardens up and down the country, the survey has a direct influence on conversation efforts, giving conservationists valuable insight into British bird life and habitats.
The Birdwatch is an event that is mutually beneficial to Winterbourne and the RSPB, as it’s been a great way to increase engagement with our garden, while allowing us to contribute, in a small but powerful way, to the protection of our natural world. So, a big thank you to everyone who took part!
Over the Birdwatch weekend, we received a great response through our bird spotting forms, which have shown us that many of the species that call Winterbourne home occupy a multitude of habitats in the garden. The variety of birds spotted has also helped to show us that our visitors take their time to focus on lots of different parts of the garden, which is fantastic to know.
I did notice a lack of tree creepers, nuthatches, and goldcrests in the results. This indicates to me that the part of the garden where visitors spend the least amount of time in is the woodland area between Winterbourne and Edgbaston Pool, as this is the location that these species usually inhabit.
However, the results did reveal a wealth of songbirds, as well as great numbers of our resident parakeets, which would imply that the canopy habitat at Winterbourne is valuable and healthy.
There were also many sightings of insectivorous garden birds, such as robins and blackbirds. This is a great indicator of soil biodiversity as, at this time of year, worms make up a large portion of these species’ diets. The high population of blackbirds and robins is also a positive for plant health as these two birds are known to feed on pests, including beetles, slugs, caterpillars, and snails, which in turn helps to protect herbaceous growth.
Public and private gardens are just as important as woodlands and other green spaces when it comes to the variety of habitat they provide. Therefore, urban gardens like Winterbourne play a crucial part in conservation efforts, especially of urban species and those that thrive in a garden environment. Our results are testament to this, shining a spotlight on how gardens can be at the forefront of urban conservation.