Help Sid Valley Biodiversity Group count the birds in Sidmouth

A robin, the gardener's friend

A robin - the gardener's friend - Credit: Charles Sinclair

Robins are singing around the town to welcome the new year, not really, they are singing to establish their breeding and feeding territories. The robins will soon be joined by the sweet sounds of blackbirds and thrushes, and the piercing trills of the wrens. Spring is on its way.
Contact with nature lifts our spirits. Hearing more birdsong is one of the few benefits reported from last year, but the truth is that there is actually less birdsong in our gardens.

A longtail at the feeders

A longtail at the feeders - Credit: Charles Sinclair

The RSPB has been running its Big Garden Birdwatch for more than forty years. The results of this extensive survey reveal a picture of swings and roundabouts, some birds are seen more often than forty years ago, but some are visiting less often. The reasons for this are complex, but the main factors are the number of people putting out food, changes in surrounding farmland, and the weather.
The winners are small birds such as the delightful long-tailed tit which weaves its nest from cobwebs, the colourful goldfinch, and the tiny coal tit. The increase in sightings is probably because fewer cold spells mean more youngsters survive the winter. Sadly, some of the most beautiful songs, those of blackbirds, robins and especially song thrushes, are being heard in fewer gardens than in years past. It is unclear why.

A pair of goldfinches at a feeder

A pair of goldfinches at a feeder - Credit: Charles Sinclair

This year’s Big Garden Birdwatch is on the last weekend of January. All you have to do is settle down by a window and watch the garden, something that is good for you in its own right. Go to the RSPB website for more details and a helpful chart if you don’t know your coal tits from your great tits.
The RSPB results cover the whole country. The Sid Valley Biodiversity Group would like to know how Sidmouth gardens compare. Sparrows are number one across England, but how about in Devon? If you do take part this year, we would be delighted if you could send your list to us at We will put together the local reports, and let you know what we find.

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