Buckinghamshire's garden birds hit the jackpot

No.:  2010-04-14
April 2010

Thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, garden birds in Buckinghamshire are to get a helping hand as the county gets its first ever garden bird Ambassador. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) celebrated the appointment of the Buckinghamshire Garden BirdWatch Ambassador at a conference this weekend.

Stephanie Plaster 

Stephanie has recorded birds in her
garden since 1999

Garden birdwatchers from around the county attended the conference, held in Aylesbury, to celebrate the appointment of Stephanie Plaster as BTO Garden BirdWatch Ambassador. Stephanie has recorded birds in her garden since 1999 and has a broad ornithological knowledge, as well as considerable expertise when it comes to plants and invertebrates, such as butterflies.

Gardens are a fascinating habitat in which to study birds, not least because it is our actions that can have so much influence. For example, around 40-50% of UK householders feed birds in their gardens, constituting around 50-60 thousand tonnes of bird foods each year! The effects of such provision are still relatively unknown and the BTO seeks to investigate this through surveys such as Garden BirdWatch.

The new Buckinghamshire Ambassador, Stephanie Plaster, spoke of her delight in taking up the position. “My role will mean that many more people in Buckinghamshire will be able to find out about BTO Garden BirdWatch. The survey does not require expert knowledge of birds, the methods are simple, it can fit easily around peoples’ busy lives and it makes a real contribution to science. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to spread this message.”

Stephanie added “BTO Garden BirdWatch is unique because it operates all through the year. Any gardener will tell you how much things change in a garden during the course of a year, and the same is true of the birds that come to visit. BTO Garden BirdWatch examines these changes scientifically through the simple observations of thousands of householders.”

Stephanie Plaster is available for talks and events and can contribute to local paper and web-based publications. For more information on how to contact Stephanie or on how to join BTO Garden BirdWatch please contact the GBW Team on 01842 750050, email; gbw [at] bto.org or write to GBW, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU.

Notes for Editors

  1. The Heritage Lottery Fund enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and countryside or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation’s heritage for everyone to enjoy. They have supported more than 26,000 projects, allocating over £4billion across the UK. The BTO’s grant of ?37,900 is being used to recruit and train Ambassadors, and to provide equipment to enable them to give talks and presentations across the country. In total there will be fully trained BTO Garden BirdWatch Ambassadors in 15 different regions of the UK.
  2. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research organisation. Over thirty thousand birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Norfolk and Stirling, who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO’s investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.
  3. The BTO Garden BirdWatch is the only nationwide survey of garden birds to run weekly throughout the year, providing important information on how birds use gardens, and how this use changes over time. Currently, some 15,000 people take part in the project. The project is funded by participants’ contributions and is the largest year-round survey of garden birds in the world. For more information see www.bto.org/gbw

Contact information 

Tim Harrison (Garden BirdWatch Development Officer)
Office: 01842 750050 (9am to 5.30pm)
Email: gbw [at] bto.org

Paul Stancliffe (BTO Press Officer)
Office: 01842 750050 (9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07845 900559 (anytime)
Email: press [at] bto.org

Images of birds and of the Buckinghamshire Ambassador are freely available in association with this press release
Please contact images [at] bto.org quoting reference 2010-04-14

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050