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David Lindo and The Big Garden Birdwatch 2024

This month, we are delighted to feature a guest blog from longstanding Páramo Ambassador, David Lindo. Also known as the Urban Birder, David is a respected broadcaster, writer, naturalist, photographer and public speaker who is passionate about birds. With the world’s largest garden wildlife survey taking place in the UK this weekend – the Big Garden Birdwatch 2024 – who better to wax lyrical about our feathered friends and encourage nature lovers like us to take part, helping to build a picture of how British garden birds are faring. Over to David…

© Páramo Clothing – David Lindo,The Urban Birder in our Pájaro Jacket.

Birds are amazing creatures! There surely cannot be a single person on the planet who does not feel something when they hear birdsong. They are also fascinating to observe, coming in all shapes and sizes, and, did I mention that they are gorgeous too? Think of a colour and there will be a bird out there rocking it. Indeed, birds have been much celebrated for their exquisite plumages. They all have something to offer, from the small, furtive and unobtrusive brown ones or the huge vultures that revel in soiling their heads and necks with the blood and guts of the carcasses upon which they feed.

© David Lindo – Robin

The weekend of the 26-28 January marks the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) annual Big Garden Birdwatch; a huge national citizen science event that attracts more than 500,000 participants annually. The idea is that you spend an hour over this weekend identifying and counting the numbers of birds that visit your garden or any other outdoor space you choose to survey, such as your local park or woodland. Once all the data is collated the RSPB releases a list of the top 10 most common bird species in Britain. Whilst the usual candidates include House Sparrows, Robins and Blackbirds, I can almost guarantee you will see something that surprises you! During a previous Big Garden Birdwatch, I remember finding Stock Doves in the back garden of an upmarket Holland Park home in West London. The owner was delighted as it was the first time she had noticed this unassuming yet attractive pigeon, which is usually found in rural areas.

© David Lindo – Blackbird
© David Lindo – Magpie

Which brings me onto the question; what kind of birds should you be looking for? The key thing to remember is that to watch birds you don’t have to go far to see something amazing. And importantly, amazing birds do not have to be rare ones. Blue Tits are incredible, as are dowdy looking Dunnocks. All birds are great! Keeping watch over your garden or sitting in a park for just a short while can easily deliver sightings of up to 20 different species, with staples like Mallard, Blackbird, Robin, Blue Tit, Wood Pigeon, and Magpie heading the list. The secret is to not obsess over identifying everything that you see. Moreover, it is about blotting out the sounds of the human hubbub around you and focusing on tuning into nature’s wavelength. It is, in fact, a form of meditation. Soon, you will start to hear the Greenfinches and Goldfinches tweeting, Blackbirds singing over the din of traffic. You will also notice all manner of birds flying around, especially if you look up. Don’t fret if they all look unidentifiable as they will become more recognizable as time goes on. Just enjoy the fact that they are there. Hooking up with more experienced birdwatchers is great for speeding up your learning. But, for the upcoming Big Garden Birdwatch, you can download a basic garden bird guide to help you on the day.

© David Lindo – Wood Pigeon

After participating in the Big Garden Birdwatch you may catch the bug and want to learn more about birds, watching them on a regular basis. To get started all you will need is a bird book and a pair of binoculars. There are plenty of good guide books to the birds of Britain with the RSPB’s online store being a good starting point. Buying binoculars is like buying a car; you should be choosing a pair that you like and that feel comfortable in your hands. They should not be heavy and bulky – especially if you have small hands. Importantly, you should be able to see a clear image looking through them and not an inverted figure of eight a la James Bond movies! Value the opinions of your birding friends as to their choices for good binoculars, and perhaps take a look through some at your local camera shop or nature reserve. A word of warning – don’t be tempted to buy cheap binoculars. They are usually optically inferior, and, worse still, potentially bad for your eyes. You can find a reasonable starter pair from £150. Once you have decided that you want to take birding up seriously then I would suggest spending £1,000 plus on a decent pair that will last you a lifetime. Just be careful pointing your binoculars in the direction of your neighbours back windows!

© Lisa Curme

Enjoy the Big Garden Birdwatch…

David Lindo – The Urban Birder

1 thought on “David Lindo and The Big Garden Birdwatch 2024

  1. One of the good guys , as before we shall be doing our count .

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