Staff and students from Hartpury University and Hartpury College joined the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch on Friday 26 January, heading out of the classroom to survey bird activity across the campus.
Level 3 Foundation Diploma Animal Management students led the way, identifying and recording bird activity in the winter sunshine. The most common birds observed during the hour were great tits, as well as house sparrows, coal tits, starlings, robins, blackbirds and wood pigeons. County-wide results from participants across Gloucestershire showed a thriving number of house sparrows, blue tits and wood pigeons in the region, with house sparrows also topping the current nationwide tally as the most observed garden bird.
The Big Garden Birdwatch is the UK’s biggest citizen science wildlife survey, helping the RSPB to understand how the nation’s garden birds are doing during an annual snapshot in time. Taking place over three days each January, participants are encouraged to spend one hour logging bird activity in their garden. Results are then submitted to the RSPB website and are available to view. In 2023, over half a million people took part, counting an impressive 9.1 million birds.
While house sparrows have taken the top spot in recorded results so far, numbers are down by around 57% compared to the first Birdwatch in 1979. It’s thought that around 38 million birds have been lost from UK skies during the last 60 years, so the importance of monitoring how garden birds are faring has never been more important.
Emma Lawlor, Lecturer in Animal Management at Hartpury College said: “Initiatives like the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch are so important for monitoring our much-loved garden birds, and gaining a snapshot of how they’re doing in all parts of the country.
We’re always keen to involve students in activities like these, as they often help to bring conversations and lessons from the classroom to life. We’re so lucky at Hartpury, having a campus brimming with wildlife, so the Birdwatch provided an ideal opportunity to explore some of our avian neighbours!”
Staff from Hartpury University also got involved on Saturday 27 January, inviting members of the public, as well as members of their friends and family, onto campus to take part in the survey.
Hartpury University and Hartpury College offer a range of animal diplomas and degrees, ideal for those seeking a career in all areas of animal care, behaviour, science and welfare. The campus itself is home to a variety of domestic and non-domestic species, providing students with an ideal opportunity to learn more about the care and management of each.
Conservation, along with animal behaviour and welfare, are two key areas for research and knowledge exchange at Hartpury. Earlier in January, Hartpury hosted the International Hedgehog Rehabilitators Conference and is preparing to host the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) Conference from 27-30 June 2024.
These events not only help to shape industry research and knowledge, but also provide opportunities for students to network with industry professionals, enhance their knowledge and boost overall employability. This is reflected by 97% of Hartpury College students progressing to employment, university or further study (Hartpury College 2023), and 97% of Hartpury University students confirmed in employment, further study or engaged in other purposeful activity (Graduate Outcomes 2023).