Ryde Social Heritage Group research the social history of the citizens of Ryde, Isle of Wight. Documenting their lives, businesses and burial transcriptions.
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RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2008 – Ryde Cemetery results

RSPB Birdwatch W/E 26 Jan 2008
RSPB Birdwatch W/E 26 Jan 2008

Four members of the RSHG Natural History Team took part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch survey on Saturday 26th January 2008 counting the number of birds spotted in Ryde Cemetery.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s biggest bird survey. It started in the late 1970s when the RSPB asked its junior membership to count the birds in their garden over one weekend. It was so successful it has been a regular event since 1979. The survey takes one hour to complete and the maximum number of each different species birds seen during this time are counted.

“In 2001 the event was officially opened up to everyone, and more than 55,000 people took part. For its 25th anniversary in 2004 this number rose to a record breaking 419,000 people, and more than 450,000 participants took part in 2006. As the survey method has remained the same since 1979, the results gathered provide vital scientific data and are an extremely valuable record of garden birds in the UK over the years. The survey has recorded the huge declines in some of our most familiar birds. Since 1979, the number of house sparrows counted has fallen by 56%, the number of starlings by 76% and blackbird numbers are down by 44%. However, it isn’t all bad news – chaffinches and great tits have both seen their numbers increase since 1979 by 36 and 52 per cent respectively.”
(Information taken from the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.)

Maisie Kitching, Liz Graves, Maurice Richards and Carol Strong spent their hour recording the birds in Ryde Cemetery on the Saturday morning.

14 different species were recorded in this short time:

Bird Name / Maximum number spotted
Blackbird / 3
Blue Tit / 4
Carrion Crow / 2
Chaffinch / 10
Common Gull / 2
Dunnock / 1
Feral Pigeon / 8
Green Woodpecker / 1
House Sparrow / 6
Magpie / 2
Pied Wagtail / 2
Robin / 1
Starling / 9
Woodpigeon / 4

The results of our Cemetery survey have been submitted to the RSPB. The national results will be available on their website at the end of March 2008.

The group also noted early spring flowers in bloom throughout the cemetery. Together with primroses, (the first was actually seen in December), the first daffodil, yellow, pink and purple crocuses, and many snowdrops were found. Many plants still have their berries providing an ideal food supply for the birds. Groups of fungi and garden plants such as heathers and cyclamens that have been deliberately planted on graves were also recorded.

A number of insects including spiders, flies and woodlice were also found and a Red Admiral butterfly was spotted taking advantage of the spring sunshine.

Carol Strong
31 January 2008