Autumnwatch is back on BBC Two on Tuesday 29 October at 8pm for a new, four-part series co-produced by the BBC and The Open University’s Broadcast and Partnerships team. The week of special 60-minute programmes celebrate the very best of our UK wildlife, broadcasting live from the Dell of Abernethy in the heart of the Cairngorms.
On Tuesday’s episode, the team will report on the initial results of the Gardenwatch survey – the largest citizen science project ever attempted. Designed in conjunction with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the survey sits on the OU’s nQuire site, the platform to help people in the UK discover more about the world around them.
Key findings from the survey…
- Although the uptake of garden log piles was reasonably high, the findings indicate that as many as 40% of gardens do not have a log pile. This is an easy habitat to create, which can support a huge diversity of wildlife, and could easily be installed in almost every kind of garden.
- Lawns comprise approximately half of the total area of people’s gardens, yet only 30% of people are leaving grass to grow long, which is a very simple and easy measure to improve the wildlife value of gardens. Only 42% of people reported leaving leaf piles; autumn is the perfect time of year to create this valuable invertebrate habitat.
- There is an obvious bias towards providing boxes and food for birds compared to other forms of wildlife. For example, the uptake of bird nest boxes was high compared to bat boxes and other ‘homes for wildlife’. Though there was a reasonable uptake of bee and bug hotels, this was mainly in southern and eastern areas, suggesting that these provisioned resources could be something for people in other areas to consider installing.
- Hedgehog feeding and Hedgehog houses are in less than 20% of gardens. With Hedgehog numbers in severe decline, and the potential importance of gardens as a habitat for this species, it could be especially rewarding for more people to consider providing garden resources to support Hedgehogs. It is obviously important, however, to be aware of good practice and education.
If you missed out on this year’s Gardenwatch survey, you’ll have a chance to be involved with the next ‘mission’, which will take a closer look at starling murmuations. Keep an eye on the OU’s Twitter for further details about the launch of this survey…
In the meantime, get your hands on the OU’s 2020 calendar, with stunning photos that explore the connection between humans and wildlife. But be quick, as availability is limited!
Find out more
For free learning resources visit the Autumnwatch OpenLearn site
Full interim results from the Gardenwatch survey can be found through the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)
- Academic Consultant Dr Andy Morris
- Media Fellow Dr Alison Penn
- Broadcast Project Manager Clair Robinson
- Digital Content Producer Daniel Browne