Great Garden Bird Watch this weekend!

Blackcap (2). Photo by Mick DrydenThis weekend, 31st January and 1st February is the 14th annual Action for Wildlife and Jersey Evening Post (JEP) Great Garden Bird Watch. Islanders are once again encouraged to watch the birds in their garden for any period between 8 am and 11 am on either the Saturday or the Sunday. Last year’s count was beset by extreme winds and flying bird-feeders, this year’s count will no doubt be held in near-perfect weather!

Analysis of sightings from the previous 13 years makes it very obvious that not all our favourite garden birds are faring so well and populations are changing dramatically. But, how exactly do we know. Well, we count them. In fact, lots and lots of people count them. And not just birdwatchers but everyone who likes birds because, let’s face it, everyone likes birds. And they are often easy to count because they are often pretty obvious and they even come into our gardens. It is here, in the garden, that Jersey can help us understand better what is happening with our birds. Data shown by the survey are very important in highlighting what is happening in our environment and, while not covering the whole countryside, do bring home to everyone wider concerns. Just think, if the birds are dying out in our gardens where we feed and protect them, what is happening out there in the rest of the world.

In common with recent reports (see here) our garden counts have shown a steady rise in the number of blackcaps choosing to visit our gardens.

Blackcap. Jersey Garden Bird Watch 2002 to 2014

Blackcap. Mean number of birds per reporting household. Jersey Garden Bird Watch 2002 to 2014

Please, over the weekend follow the guidelines printed below or in the JEP and tell us what birds you see. We can add up all the counts (we have 13 years’ worth already) and easily pick up changes that are happening right in front of us. Will there be even fewer greenfinches than last year or will wood pigeons have finally taken over our bird tables? Or will squirrels eat all the food! We call this ‘citizen science’ so consider yourself all citizen scientists!

How to enter the survey

Counters should note the highest number of each species of bird that are seen together at one time during that period – not the total number which enter your garden over the period of the watch.

Survey forms and a handy identification guide will be published in the JEP on Thursday the 29th and all data received will be passed on to the Société Jersiaise to add to their records and included in Birds On The Edge bird monitoring analyses.

Completed forms from the paper can be posted in or delivered to the JEP. You can also send in your records online through the JEP here from the weekend or download from here at Birds On The Edge and email to

The JEP published some advice on feeding garden birds earlier this month here

Blue tit (2). Photo by Mick Dryden