It will be eyes to the skies this weekend as people across the length and breadth of the country take part in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch.
The activity is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world. Last year 3,076 people in Aberdeenshire joined over 47,000 Scots to count the birds in their garden or local parks.
The most common garden visitor in the Aberdeenshire area was the house sparrow with an average of six spotted at any one time.
Since its launch in 1979, the Big Garden Birdwatch has provided RSPB Scotland with information about changes in numbers of garden birds in winter, and helped alert conservationists to any worrying declines.
In 2013, the survey revealed that sightings of one of the country’s most threatened garden regulars, the starling, fell by a further 7 per cent. It means since the turn of the century, the average number of starlings spotted in Scottish gardens during the Big Garden Birdwatch has dropped by almost a quarter (22 per cent). Numbers of house sparrows, also on the red list, dropped by almost 8% in gardens compared to 2012.
These worrying declines mirror the findings of the State of Nature report which was launched earlier this year by 25 UK wildlife groups with the backing of Sir David Attenborough. The report revealed that 60 per cent of the wildlife species included are in decline. This year, for the first time, participants are being asked to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens too.
Visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch and www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch to find out how to take part at home or at school. Or you can join an event in your area. The RSPB will be at David Welch Winter Gardens in Duthie Park, from 10am to 3.30pm on Saturday and at Hazlehead Park Cafe, from 10am to 3.30pm on Sunday. You can pop along throughout the day, or meet indoors at 1.15 pm, to join them for the Big Garden Birdwatch survey from 1.30-2.30pm.