You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
There's just over a week to go until #BigGardenBirdwatch! So we thought we'd take a look at some familiar faces that topped the Big Garden Birdwatch charts here in the east last year, starting this week's countdown at number ten and finishing at number 6 - look out for the top five next week!
10. In at ten, it's the long-tailed tit - easily recognisable birds with distinctive colouring, long-tailed tits look like a ball on a stick with long tails and small bodies. Gregarious and noisy residents, long-tailed tits are most usually noticed in small, excitable flocks of about 20 birds. Greater numbers of long-tailed tits are surviving our milder winters, meaning the number of birds seen in our gardens in the region has increased by 128% in ten years.
9. Moving down one place from 2016 is the great tit - the largest UK tit; green and yellow with a striking glossy black head, white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song. It is a woodland bird which has readily adapted to man-made habitats to become a familiar garden visitor. It can be quite aggressive at a bird table, fighting off smaller tits. Changes in weather during breeding seasons can have a big impact on these small birds.
2016’s prolonged wet spell meant there were fewer caterpillars about for feeding their young. It’s likely that this led to fewer younger birds surviving than usual, meaning there were fewer seen in gardens -14% less great tits in fact!
8. Jumping two places from ten to eight is the robin - the UK's favourite bird - with its bright red breast it is familiar throughout the year and especially at Christmas! Males and females look identical. Young birds have no red breast and are spotted with golden brown. Robins were seen in 90% of the region's gardens last year.
7. Non-mover, the goldfinch, remained in seventh place in the charts - a highly coloured finch with a bright red face and yellow wing patch. Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a delightful liquid twittering song and call. Their long fine beaks allow them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels. Increasingly they are visiting bird tables and feeders – there’s been a 35% rise in the number of goldfinches visiting gardens in the east since 2007.
6. Coming in at number six, another non-mover, the collared dove - these pale, pinky-brown grey coloured birds, with a distinctive black neck collar (as the name suggests), have declined by 27% in the region since 2007. They have deep red eyes and reddish feet. Their monotonous cooing is a familiar sound to many and it’s easy to mistake them for a woodpigeons, however they are a lot smaller than a woodpigeon.
How will these birds fare this year? Sign up for Big Garden Birdwatch to let us know, and look out for last year's top five next week!
No, not made of birds! A kebab for birds to eat!
This simple homemade feeder will help attract birds to your garden for this year's Big Garden Birdwatch - now only a couple of weeks away (sign up here!) It's cheap and fun to make, and all you'll need is:
1. Taking floral wire, thread through chunks of cheese and apples, and raisins leaving about 8cm at either end.
2. Bend the wire to form a circle, holding the ends together.
3. Tie a loop of string on the wire circle.
4. Hang your scrumptious kebab up for the birds to feast on.
For your free Big Garden Birdwatch pack, which includes a bird identification chart, plus RSPB shop voucher and advice to help you attract wildlife to your garden, text BIRD to 70030 or visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch
Not a kebab made of birds! A kebab for the birds in your garden to eat, and one that's not toxic to your dogs and cats either.
This kebab is very much like our other kebab, but without the raisins, and with a few cute dogs thrown in.
It's the perfect way to get ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch: cheap and fun to make. Oh and you can sign up for the Big Garden Birdwatch for free here!
All you'll need to make this is:
1. Taking floral wire, thread through chunks of cheese and apples leaving about 8cm at either end.
5. But don't worry if your pets get hold of it...