The next garden bird count here in France takes place this coming weekend, 27th – 28th May. I’m happy to report that the garden bird count of January broke all records, with 6771 gardens around France registering their sightings, compared to 3642 the previous year. The results confirmed what many experts had already been saying, that there were less birds present in our gardens this last winter. One of the explanations for this has been attributed to the abundance of natural food sources this last winter which lead to bird feeders being less visited.
The main aim of the May count is to see if the birds, having been absent from our gardens in winter, have now returned to nest and breed .
Sadly the spring count of May has always seen fewer participants than the winter count, so I urge you to all rally around and take part this year. It only takes an hour of our time and its findings are massively important to help understand how the likes of the climate affects the feeding, breeding and migratory patterns of garden birds.
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 May or Sunday 28th May 2017.
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 May or Sunday 28th May. 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 16th June 2017. 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 May and before 16th June 2017 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.
The garden bird count is a great way to spend an hour this weekend 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.
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 weather is forecast to be glorious across the whole of France this weekend, so what better way to enjoy the sunshine than by watching and identifying the birds that visit your garden. If you do take part, I would love you to share what you saw, so please do enter your comments in the box below.