Columnist Eric Brown discusses more of the wild things seen in his Sidcup garden and beyond - with the focus this week on birds.

At this time of year with dark, dreary days book-ended by windy nights and freezing mornings it's easy to keep putting off those wildlife walks. They’ll keep for another day, you say.

But later this month you can take part in a nature event that demands just a simple step to your soft, comfy armchair.

The Big Garden Birdwatch is about to celebrate its 40th birthday, 40 years of citizen science contributing to our knowledge of why certain birds are flourishing and why others are not.

This garden party has flourished since being introduced by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 1979, the year Police twice topped the pop charts and Charlton Athletic were on their way towards relegation from Division Two.

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Nearly half a million people accepted invitations to participate last year, recording 6,764,475 birds overall. Chirpy house sparrows topped the poll as most popular garden bird despite a population crash.

One of the biggest 'gainers' over those 40 years has been the goldfinch, once a bird of woods and countryside but now firmly established as a garden regular. It didn’t make the top 10 until 2008 but last year was the sixth commonest bird reported.

The RSPB survey has revealed several fluctuations like these and early notice of plummeting populations may provide opportunity for a remedy. The greenfinch, for example, has been revealed to be in crisis due to disease. Once a common garden bird, my own records indicate I did not see a greenfinch at all between July and the year’s end.

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It’s easy to tackle the Birdwatch. Just set aside an hour to watch your garden any time between January 26 and 28, make a cup of tea, retire to said armchair and record the highest number of each bird species you see at one time.

Record other wildlife too like those screeching foxes and elusive frogs.

More information and details on submitting results from

Telephone 01767 680551 for information on Birdwatch events organised by local RSPB groups such as Bexley, Bromley and Gravesend. Good hunting!