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Spend an hour counting birds and reconnect with nature, says RSPB

Red-billed choughs at Porthcawl, near Bridgend in Wales (PA)
Red-billed choughs at Porthcawl, near Bridgend in Wales (PA)

The RSPB is asking people to spend an hour over the weekend watching birds to help the charity monitor the decline or recovery of the nation’s species.

Placing a feeder in the garden or on a window can attract birds and the RSPB is asking people to count only the ones that land, not those that fly overhead.

The charity said it is a good way to reconnect with nature after official statistics show that a million fewer people are spending time in it compared to during the pandemic.

Big Garden Birdwatch has been running since 1979 and last year half a million people reported sightings of over nine million birds from gardens, balconies, parks, allotments, school grounds and narrow boats.

The RSPB said this citizen science project, running from January 26 to 28, helps it get a snapshot of the health of the UK’s bird populations.

Beccy Speight, chief executive at the RSPB, said: “We want this year to be the year everyone reconnects with nature, by taking part in the Birdwatch and also calling on all our political leaders to prioritise the recovery of our natural world.

“Just a few years ago, under lockdown, many people made a powerful emotional reconnection with nature during what was a tough and stressful time for everyone.

“This trend and the health benefits associated with spending time in nature has been noted by the Office of National Statistics.

“However, as time has passed it seems many of us have returned to bad habits, missing out on the mental and physical health benefits as well as losing our connection at a time when the UK’s wildlife needs us most.”

Big Garden Birdwatch 2021
Big Garden Birdwatch has been running since 1979 and last year half a million people reported sightings of over nine million birds (RSPB/PA)

To take part, the RSPB said to visit its website and then report the highest number of each bird species seen at one time, not just the total seen in one hour.

It will be the 45th year of the Birdwatch, which has to date counted 185 million birds with 11.5 million hours spent watching them.

Dr Amir Khan, president of the RSPB, said: “In such troubling times, spending time watching and feeding the birds that visit my garden is one of the purest joys of life, especially when my favourite bird, the bullfinch appears.

“Not only does it allow me to connect with nature, but quite simply, when we’re looking after nature, we’re looking after ourselves.

“Taking a moment out of my busy life to enjoy the birds that visit my garden is incredibly beneficial for my mental health, helping to increase serotonin, known as the happy brain chemical, which lifts my mood and reduces stress levels.

“That’s something I’m sure we all need right now. So, I’d encourage everyone who can to take part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch, whether in a garden, a balcony or a local green space.

“It’s fun, free and for everyone, and the perfect way to spend an hour reconnecting with our precious, yet fragile wildlife.”