The Big Garden Birdwatch

Members of Trinity’s Gardens Team swapped spades and secateurs for binoculars and notebooks for the Big Garden Birdwatch (BGB). Senior Gardener Karen Wells reports on what they spotted across Trinity’s 36-acre mixed habitat. 

The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest bird survey, run by the RSPB over the last 40 years. Anyone can spend an hour on one of the three allocated days in January recording sightings of our feathered friends – be it from their garden, balcony or local park – submitting findings online or by post. The data collected helps the RSPB monitor and understand bird world challenges plus decline and growth in species.

Gardener Lee Froggatt getting settled for a spot of bird watching.

After Harriet Bradnock, one of our Horticultural Apprentices, asked if we’d ever taken part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, I was thrilled at the willingness of the Gardens’ Team to participate. It turns out the team has a nestful of bird enthusiasts! I’m also amazed at how many different bird species we’ve spotted over the last few years in the gardens.

On 29 January, Harriet, Leah Collins, Lee Froggatt, Sarah Squires and Jon Strauss each carried out a silent survey covering three postcode areas within the gardens. Head Gardener, Tom ‘Tiptoe’ Hooijenga, photographed the event. The gardeners recorded the highest number of each bird species seen at any one time during the hour. This number does not include birds in flight. 

Horticultural Apprentice Harriet Bradnock recording her sightings

A mighty 19 different species were spotted, including Dunnock, Coal Tit and Long-Tailed Tit. And the featherweight champion? With 18 sightings … weighing in at a mere 10g … the Blue Tit.

The results

Trinity College gardens are bursting with a rich abundance of flora and fauna due to its wide variety of habitats (as confirmed by the Biodiversity Assessment commissioned by The Backs Committee in 2017). Over the last few years, in their work maintaining these habitats, the eagle-eyed & owl-eared Gardens’ Team have spotted or heard at least 59 bird species. Now that’s something to crow about …

Blue tit © Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA-3.0

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