The power of volunteers

I have a few large posts in the offing but I just wanted to highlight two great examples of volunteering and what can be achieved by many people putting contributing a little (and in some cases not so little) of their time.

Late last year, the British Trust for Ornithology, Birdwatch Ireland and the Scottish Ornithologist Club released the 2007-2011 Bird Atlas.  This is an amazing book that details the breeding and wintering ranges of all bird species in the British Isles and not only is it a scientific marvel, it is a lovely ‘coffee table book’ too (if fact it’s almost as big as a coffee table!).  The book importantly also highlights how bird populations have changed over the past few decades and, in many cases, is quite a depressing read.  However, it’s an extremely helpful aid to the work of conservation organisations and fascinating for those of us who like wildlife, statistics and maps!

The most startling thing about it, is that 40,000 people helped to create it by collecting bird survey data and they’re all named in the back – it’s just a pity my name’s not in there and it will be many years until the next one comes out.

ImageThe other great example of volunteering is one that is much better known – the Big Garden Birdwatch. The results of the 2014 survey came out today and again it makes for interesting reading.  Nearly half a million people took part in the survey (sadly down from last year) and 7.27million birds were counted.  The annual survey has now been going for 36 years and data collected over that period can provide very good insights into the state of Britain’s birds.

You can find out more on the Bird Atlas and the Bid Garden Birdwatch at the following locations:

http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdatlas

http://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/previous-results.aspx

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