Big Garden Birdwatch at Jodrell Bank

Winter at Jodrell Bank is a fantastic time to take a closer look at the wildlife living in our Arboretum. So last month we were very happy to offer a special treat for bird lovers: we were taking part in the RSPB’s countrywide citizen science project, the Big Garden Birdwatch, which is also the biggest wildlife survey in the world. Guiding us through the survey were the expert birdwatchers from the RSPB Macclesfield and their fantastic volunteer leaders.

During the day our group of Home Educators found out all about the inspiring and varied work of the RSPB. Before we headed out into the beautiful sunshine and into the wild of our Arboretum we learnt how to do a scientific bird survey, how to identify some common bird species as well as how to use specialist bird watching equipment.

The group then explored the Gardens for exactly one hour of wildlife spotting. -This strict time limit helps to make our results comparable to other group’s findings.

Reviewing our results, we were surprised by what we’d spotted: we had seen 18 different species of birds, including Britain’s smallest bird, the Goldcrest, many different tits and thrushes, and a huge raven, which sat down above us right at the end of the one hour slot. The results of our survey were added to those of thousands of other groups on the RSPB website and will help determine the state of bird populations all over the UK and inform future conservation strategies.

After having spotted so many different birds in the morning we made our own origami bird beaks and headed out into the woods to behave like birds! No, we were not running around like chickens or trying to fly! The task was to try and build a nest using only our beaks. The results were fantastic – some of these nests might be inhabited in a few months’ time, who knows!

To round off the day we took a look at stars, planets and birds in the night sky in our inflatable planetarium and the myths and stories behind constellations such as Cygnus the swan, Aquila the eagle, Corvus the crow and Pegasus the winged horse – not quite a bird but equally fascinating!

We are hoping to offer more outdoor days like this one in our Arboretum in the near future, so please keep checking our events page

Blogger: Ruth Grutzbauch, Gardens Engagement Officer