February is a month for getting outside and recording the birds.
Over the past weekend, the RSPB has held the Big Garden Bird Count, but Jersey is not included in this. As such, Jersey has its own Garden Bird Count, which is now in its 20th year.
Taking place this weekend (6 and 7 February), all you have to do is record the birds you see in your garden…oh, and of course any squirrels.
Projects like this are vital for long-term analysis of how bird populations are doing.
The analysis of this data over the years has been able to show trends in bird occurrences in gardens but they also indicate when new species are moving into gardens.
The latter can give conservationists advance warning that all may not be well in the wild. If species which generally avoid gardens start appearing with more frequency, it may relate to food shortages in the wider environment.
After a year of lockdown, many people have spent more time in the gardens during the warmer months and I am sure many more have been making sure the bird feeders stay topped up to encourage our feathered friends to visit. So why not get out there this weekend and help island conservation of birds by recording what is on your patch? You can submit your results on the Birds of the Edge website, but also make sure to send them to the Jersey Biodiversity Centre.
Later in the month, bird counts will be moving away from the gardens and out into the countryside with the Jersey dairy Big Farmland Bird Count. This is the second year of the count, which is organised by us at Sangan Island Conservation Ltd.
Like the garden bird count, it is a way of building up data to look for trends in the occurrence of species across the island. Unlike the garden bird count which is spread over a weekend, the farmland count happens on one day for half an hour across all the participating farms at the same time. By undertaking it in this way we can capture a small snapshot of the birds present on the farmland at that time. Farmers are paired up with local ornithologists which not only helps with the identification of species but also offers an opportunity for our countryside stewards and local naturalists to discuss the wildlife of our island.
The importance of collecting biodiversity records can not be understated and it is not just the rare species that are worth recording, but even the common ones. The more records the island has, the more accurate data analysis is, which can help inform conservation actions. So, if you have never recorded the birds in your garden before, why not start this weekend?
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