The next garden bird count here in France takes place at the end of this month, 27th and 28th January. The Big Garden Birdwatch organised by the RSPB takes place in the UK the same weekend. You can find full details on how to take part in the UK garden bird count here.
Unlike last year when there was a lack of garden birds recorded during the winter months, this year bird and nature lovers are reporting increased sightings and indeed a heightened presence of some birds usually less seen in our gardens such as the Hawfinch. This is the case in both France and UK. One explanation for this is being attributed to the lack of berries available in Eastern Europe this winter which has caused many birds to travel further in the search of food. Likewise Coal Tits have also been spotted in greater numbers in the garden this autumn and winter.
As always it’s important to record these phenomenon so that experts can better understand how the likes of climate change and weather patterns are affecting the feeding, breeding and migratory patterns of garden birds. Please once again take part in the count this year, it will only take an hour of your time.
The annual National Garden Bird Count in France is organised by the LPO – Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (League for the Protection of Birds) and the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (National Natural History Museum).
You can find all the information about how to take part in the garden bird count here in France at www.oiseauxdesjardins.fr. The website is only available in French so to encourage as many English speaking people living in France as possible to participate in the bird count I have written the following guide on how to take part:
Choose your day. You can choose to take part on either Saturday 27th January or Sunday 28th January 2018.
Download the observation guide from the www.oiseauxdesjardins.fr website. This has pictures and the names of the birds in French to help you to identify those which visit your garden. I have also attached a copy of the guide here Fiches D’Oiseaux for ease.
Download the Le Jardin Perdu Garden Bird Help Sheet. As the bird names on both the website and the observation guide are all listed in French, I have created a special guide which lists all the names of the garden birds in both English and French. You can down load my Garden Bird help sheet here
Choose your location. Whether you have a large or small garden, courtyard or terrace you can take part in the count. If you do not have a garden you can still take part by counting the birds in a local park or green space.
Count the number of birds which visit your garden during one hour. Count the number of birds in your garden for a one hour period on either Saturday 27th January or Sunday 28th January. The time of day is up to you, but the best time to take part is late morning when the air temperature has warmed through. Only count the birds which land in your garden, do not count any you see landing in your neighbour’s garden. The only exception to this rule relates to birds who hunt in the sky rather than landing in the garden such as martins, hawks and swallows. If you see any of these circling around your garden you can include these in your count. Many of the same birds are likely to visit your garden during the one hour period; the best number to note down is the greatest you see at any one time. For example, if during the hour you see together 4 blue tits, then 2, then 1 – mark this down as 4 on your sheet rather than 7.
Enter your results on www.oiseauxdesjardins.fr before 15th February 2018. To do this you need to first create an account. If you do not already have an account click on J’aimerais participer in the top right hand corner of the welcome page. You will first of all be asked to select where you live. On the following page you will then need to fill in a few personal details; name, address and email, those are the only details necessary. Once you have clicked on s’inscrire you will then receive a password via email which will allow you to log in to the site.
Create a garden. To be able to enter your observations, you will need to create a garden. Once logged in you will see on the left hand side of the page Ajouter un jardin. From there you will be able to create your garden. You need to register the garden where you undertake the count. If you need any help completing the second page of this procedure Renseignements géographiques please download my guide in English here Renseignements Géographiques Help Sheet.
Enter your observations. After the weekend of 27th and 28th January and before 15th February 2018 you will need to add your bird count information to the www.oiseauxdesjardins.fr website. You can do this by logging into your account and then on the left hand menu you will see Mes Jardins. Once you click on this you will be able to add the number of each type of bird you saw.
In addition to the birds you see, the form allows you to enter information on any of the following you may also have seen during the hour;
Crapaud commun ou épineux – Common toad
Ecureuil roux – Red squirrel
Hérisson d’Europe – Hedgehog
Lézard des murailles – Wall lizard
Rainette verte – European tree frog
This registration procedure may seem a bit long and daunting but I assure you that it does only take a few minutes to complete. I hope that my English guide will help to speed up the process and encourage you to take part in this important, continuing study of the birds which live in or visit France.
Don’t forget to have your camera to hand; you could end up taking some beautiful photographs like those featured in this post. I’d like to thank Madame Marjorie Poitevin, Animatrice Nationale de l’Observatoire des Oiseaux des Jardins, LPO France, for allowing me to write this guide in English and for providing the photographs.
If you struggle to identify a bird and can take a photograph of it, Madame Poitevin is more than happy to help identify the bird. You can email her your photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to respond, as she has put it, ‘dans un anglais que j’espère compréhensif !’ I’m sure she’s being just modest and speaks brilliant English!
You can find more information on LPO and their other activities here.
The garden bird count is a great way to spend an hour with your family and enjoy watching the wildlife that visits your garden. Anyone here in France can take part in the National Garden bird count, it’s not something which is reserved for specialists. If you do take part, I would love you to share what you saw, so please do enter your comments in the box below.