‘Watch the Birdie’ says Mayor Wales

Mayor Wales prepares for The Big Garden Bird Watch this weekend.

Mayor Wales prepares for The Big Garden Bird Watch this weekend.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is encouraging residents in Ballymena and district to get involved in the 2017 Big Garden Birdwatch.

The RSPB initiative is the world’s largest garden wildlife survey and will celebrate its 38th year on Saturday and Sunday January 28 and 29.

Everyone can get involved and one of the local activities taking place is at The People’s Park on Sunday, January 29, when there will be birdwatching and bird box building from 10am - 12noon. Bird boxes are useful shelters for birds to nest in, acting as a substitute for the holes birds would normally find in trees and can be especially useful in family gardens where there is often a lot of food, but far fewer trees.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough, Councillor Audrey Wales MBE, said: “The Big Garden Birdwatch is a chance for everyone to actively help nature and Mid and East Antrim is backing the campaign.

“The results from the Big Garden Birdwatch each year help build a picture of wildlife across the country which is important for conservation efforts. Last year, more than 519,000 people all over the UK counted an incredible 8,262,662 birds!” she said.

People complete the Big Garden Bird Survey at home

Amy Colvin from RSPB NI said: “It couldn’t be easier to take part in the survey. “Pick up a survey leaflet from either your local event, RSPB NI Nature Reserve, or at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

“Then make yourself a cuppa, grab a biscuit and spend just one hour during the Birdwatch weeke nd counting the visitors to your garden.”

The Big Garden Birdwatch also asks participants to record other garden wildlife, including hedgehogs and squirrels.

As temperatures start to drop, the natural food available for wildlife becomes scarcer and so our feathered and spiky friends are more likely to visit our gardens in the hope of supplementing their diets.

Birds need calorie-rich food at this time of year, to help them maintain their fat reserves.

The advice is to opt for peanuts, sunflower hearts, suet balls, finely chopped bacon rind and even a little bit of grated cheese in your feeders and on bird tables. For a balanced diet, still provide your normal seed mix, as well as these fattier

foods. For hedgehogs, it’s best to avoid bread and milk and opt for dog or cat food.

For more information about Big Garden Birdwatch 2017 visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch