Back in 1979, the Big Garden Birdwatch began as an event for children in a collaboration between Blue Peter and the RSPB. Now 40 years on, it is the world’s largest wildlife survey, with around half a million people regularly taking part.
As the annual event returns once again this weekend, it will once again provide an important insight into how the nation’s wildlife is faring. Four decades of data have highlighted “alarming” declines in the numbers of sparrows and starlings, while other birds such as long-tailed tits have thrived to become a common sight in backyards.
Since 2014, participants have also been asked to record some of the other animals in their gardens to help build a more complete picture of our wildlife. For the sake of an hour, volunteers have the chance to play a small but important part in recording a moment in the nation’s natural history – and gain a greater appreciation of the world outside their window in the process.