STAFF AT garden centres in Dial Post and Alfold are backing the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ (RSPB) latest campaign to record sightings of gardeners’ feathered friends.
The teams at the Old Barn Nursery & Garden Centre at Dial Post and Alfold Garden Centre are offering bird lovers the chance to get involved with the Big Garden Birdwatch on Saturday January 28 and Sunday January 29.
Mig Ammolla, manager of the Dial Post centre, said: “The Big Garden Birdwatch weekend is designed to help raise awareness of the RSPB and its important conservation work.
“The charity is inviting people to get involved in the world’s biggest bird survey, which provides the organisation with a vital snapshot of the UK’s bird population.
“Anyone can join in the fun by visiting www.RSPB.org.uk and downloading a spotting form.
“We are also offering people the chance to pick up free bird spotting charts from the garden centre and we will be recording our sightings onsite during the weekend too.”
The annual event, established in 1979, invites people of all ages from all across the UK to spend one hour counting the birds that visit their gardens.
Mig said: “To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch you will just need a pen and a printout of the RSPB bird spotting sheet.
“Spend an hour watching the birds in your garden or park and make a note of the highest number of each bird species seen on the ground at any one time.
“Then visit the RSPB website to enter your findings.”
Last year more than 600,000 people took part in Big Garden Birdwatch and counted more than 10 million birds.
House sparrows retained the top spot for the eighth year running in the 2011 survey, with an average of four seen per garden.
Mig said: “January is the best time to see birds because the often harsh winter weather brings them into our gardens seeking food and shelter.
“Birds are essential to a healthy garden as they eat bugs so they need to be encouraged and looked after by gardeners.
“Our feathered friends struggle to find food at this time of year so by putting food out for them you are increasing their chances of survival hugely.
“Unlike mammals, who store fat, birds have to eat enough food each day to survive a cold night.
“Garden birds take many different kinds of foods from feeding stations and bird tables. Kitchen scraps, especially meaty ones like fat, cheese and cake are particularly good,” he added.
To find out more about the Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend call 01403 710 000 or visit www.oldbarngardencentre.co.uk.