From bloodthirsty vegetation to sneezing songbirds, Devon is home to some surprisingly unusual plants and animals. We bring you our favourites...
Calling all bird lovers, twitchers and fans of the feathered: today marks the start of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, a two day initiative dedicated to tallying up the birds in Britain’s backyards. Since the late 1970’s, the RSPB has called upon the public to help keep tabs on bird populations in the UK, in a bid to monitor trends and gain valuable insight into the wellbeing of our wildlife.
And thus far, it seems UK residents have been happy to help, with results from previous years providing valuable insight into the state of Britain’s birds. But what’s in it for you and how can you help? Well, all the RSPB are asking for is an hour out of your weekend to count the different birds you can spot in your back garden, whether from the comfort of your kitchen or from your frosty garden bench. You can record your findings live with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch app, or with a trusty pencil- your choice. And when your hour’s up, you’re free to enjoy your weekend, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your part in helping our feathered friends during the tough winter months.
Here at Sykes, we wouldn’t go as far as saying we’re birding buffs; but we are passionate about the environment, and thought we’d show our support for this worthwhile enterprise by letting you know about which birds to look out for in your area and some of the ways you can make them feel at home.
The song thrush
With numbers in rapid decline, the song thrush is high on the RSPB’s one-to-watch list. This musical bird is particularly active at dawn, so have your binoculars by your bed over the weekend for the best chance to spot this tuneful tweeter in your garden.
The long-tailed tit
Fluffy and ever-so-cute, the long-tailed-tit is typified by its long tail and lovely grey plumage. These plump little birds are busy building their nests this time of the year, and can often be found in a posse of other tits, so keep your eyes peeled!
Great spotted woodpecker
If you’re lucky enough to live alongside a thicket of trees, there’s a chance you might catch a glimpse of the majestic great spotted woodpecker– or at least hear one. Known for their identifiable drumming and striking black and white feathers, the woodpecker is one of Britain’s most beloved bird species and one which would be sorely missed should their numbers fail.
The red-breasted robin
The darling of the back garden: the red-breasted robin is arguably one of the country’s most popular and recognisable birds. These lovable and endearing chirrupers provide a cheerful addition to any green space, and are sure to put a smile on your face should you spot one over the weekend.
Redwings are one of the UK’s most cherished winter imports, so make them feel at home during their visit by hanging bird food in your garden for them to feast on. Do that, and they’ll keep returning to our shores year after year!
To ensure your garden is as bird friendly and inviting as possible, there’s a few things you can do to prepare your bushes, hedges and trees for the arrival of our winged guests. Placing food and other nibbles in accessible places around your garden is a sure-fire way to attract birds, whilst things like defrosting your bird bath (or installing one!) and keeping your grass cut short will ensure that they keep returning as the seasons change. For other fun ways to prep your garden for the Birdwatch Weekend, visit the RSPB website for some hints and tips on how to build your very own DIY bird feeders.
If you’re lucky enough to be spending this weekend in a Sykes holiday cottage, there are still ways you can help with the survey. Whether you’re holidaying amid the mountains of Scotland or taking in the sights and sounds of Cornwall, do your bit by keeping a note of the birds and wildlife that you spot during your stay. And if you see something really beautiful, we want to hear about it, so be sure to tweet us @sykescottages to let us know about what wonderful wildlife you’ve encountered this weekend.