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RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

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Martin Aaron Martin Aaron | 23:01 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

Yes, it's that time of year again when the RPSB Big Garden Birdwatch returns to a garden near you, over the weekend of 29-30 January.

I mentioned this last year and we had a huge response, so hopefully this year will be just as successful if not better and with all this cold weather, I'm sure the birds will be out in force.

Garden bird feeder by Brian Mottershead.

Greenfinch and a goldfinch on a bird feeder. Image by Brian Mottershead.

How to take part:

All you need is a pen, some paper (or a print out of the RSPB bird ID sheet and an hour to spend watching the birds in your garden on either Saturday 29, or Sunday 30 January 2011.

Then simply record the highest number of each bird species seen in your garden, or local park (not flying over) at any one time, and let the RSPB know what you saw.

How to submit your results:

From Sunday 29 January - 18 February you can, visit the RSPB website to submit your sightings.

This survey is vital in helping the RSPB to understand what is happening to our feathered friends and in particular our more at risk bird species.

In recent times we have lost more than half of our house sparrow population and three quarters of our starlings.

If you want to attract more birds to your garden, have a go at making these simple garden feeders from your old kitchen waste:

How to make a garden bird feeder:

What you'll need: plastic drink bottles, scissors, string, bird seed, yoghurt pots and milk cartons (make sure they're clean)

  • Cut a hole in the side large enough to allow a free flow of seeds, but in such a way that it won't all fall out on the ground in the slightest puff of wind, and won't get wet if it rains.
  • Make a few small holes in the bottom of your feeder to allow any rainwater to drain away.
  • Hang it with wire, or even strong string from a tree or your washing line.
  • If your feeder starts to wear out or the food in it goes mouldy, recycle it and make another one.

Remember to keep your feeders well stocked, especially over winter as birds come to rely on them and will go hungry if you forget to top them up.

We've also got some great feeding tips videos on our website.

Feeling peckish? Try making this speedy bird cake.

What you'll need: Good quality bird seed, raisins, peanuts, grated cheese, suet or lard, yoghurt pot, string, mixing bowl, scissors.

  • Carefully make a small hole in the bottom of a yoghurt pot. Thread string through the hole and tie a knot on the inside. Leave enough string so that you can tie the pot to a tree, bird table or washing line.
  • Allow the lard to warm up to room temperature, but don't melt it. Then simply cut it up into small pieces and put it in the mixing bowl.
  • Add the other ingredients to the bowl and mix them together with your finger tips. Keep adding the seed/raisin/cheese mixture and mixing it in until the fat holds it all together.
  • Fill your yoghurt pots with bird cake mixture and put them in the fridge to set for an hour or so.
  • Hang your speedy bird cakes from trees or your bird table. Keep an eye out for greenfinches, tits and possibly even great spotted woodpeckers.

Feel free to let us know how you got on by leaving your comments here in the blog, but don't forget to visit the RSPB website to submit your findings from January 29 onwards.



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