MORE than 50,000 people across Wales took part in this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch after a year of lockdown restrictions saw many turn to nature for solace.

The RSPB birdwatch - the world’s largest wildlife survey - is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their gardens, giving RSPB scientists insights into how our avian neighbours are faring.

This year’s event, which was held in the last weekend of January, saw record-breaking numbers participating, with over one million people taking part across the UK – twice as many as the year before – counting 17 million birds in total. In Wales, participation doubled on last year’s event, with 53,279 people taking part and counting over one million birds.

Hopes were raised for a bumper participation this year after results from a YouGov survey revealed the pandemic is making the Welsh public more aware of nature in their local area, with 35 per cent seeing more wildlife near their homes over the last 12 months than they'd never noticed before.

The survey of 2,071 adults across the UK revealed that 63 per cent of respondents said watching birds and hearing their song added to their enjoyment of life since the onset of the pandemic, with more than half of those surveyed believing Covid has made them more aware of nature around them.


Katie-Jo Luxton, RSPB Cymru's director, said she was “blown away by the enthusiasm with which people have taken part” in this year’s event.

“Lockdowns have brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people, right on their doorsteps,” she said.

“This winter has been a bleak ordeal but as the dawn chorus starts to burst into song and the blossom starts to flower from the trees once more, we are emerging from this pandemic a new generation of nature lovers.”

Now in its 42nd year, the Big Garden Birdwatch highlights the winners and losers in the garden bird world across the UK. It was the first to alert the RSPB to the decline in song thrush numbers, which are still down 78 per cent compared to the first event in 1979.

This year’s event revealed that the house sparrow held on to its number one spot as the most commonly seen garden bird, seen in 76 per cent of gardens throughout the weekend.

The starling climbed up to second place, pushing the blue tit down one position to 3rd, while the robin moved up three places to sixth position. What is more concerning is that eight out of the top 10 bird species showed declines in average counts, with the blackbird and the robin the only two to see any increase on 2020.

“We hope the Birdwatch has kindled a new passion for wildlife for the thousands who took part for the first time this year – we need every voice raised to stand up for nature,” said Ms Luxton.

This article originally appeared on the Argus' sister site The National.