Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend

In 2007, over 400,000 people took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch and there will probably be even more this year. It’s in a good cause, and provides masses of raw data for analysis, and so I’m fully supportive of the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA, endorsement of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds now-annual, and vital, snapshot of the UK’s birds each winter – after all, it’s open to everyone in the UK. And if it isn’t possible for him, personally, to find the time over the weekend to complete his survey form I’m sure he’ll be encouraging his party colleagues to do so.. although, as of 2.30pm 3.30pm, the Sinn Féin website doesn’t seem to have carried his statement..

  • Mark McGregor

    Of course BirdWatch carry out a similar survey for interested readers not within the RSPB theatre of operations.

  • Pete Baker
  • Mark McGregor


    It’s the Countryside Bird Survey (among others), which requires a slightly higher level of knowledge, that is part of Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Project. Both the Garden Bird schemes would have too low an entry level for monitors to be any real scientific value but are valuable projects.

  • Rory

    What a marvellous piece of journalism, Pete. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that even a Kelvin McKenzie could mangae to put a “them-uns” spin on an article about “twitching”. I seriously underestimated your talent.

    Clearly this failure by the Sinn Féin Website to carry McGuiness’s call by (is it now?) 3.30pm is barbaric and a serious threat to our way of life which cannot be tolerated. The Shinners must be hounded from office, their organisations proscribed, their members rounded up for internment, their leaders shot on sight and their women and children sent to Bible-study re-education camps. Nothing less will suffice to avert this threat.

  • Pete Baker


    While you might not think it worth mentioning, it is, to my knowledge, the first such statement from a Sinn Féin minister not to be carried on the SF website.

    In fact, they usually appear there before appearing on the NI Executive website.

    Which, to my admittedly pedantic mind, is interesting in the circumstances.

    I’ll keep your other suggestions in mind, though.

  • Dec


    It helps if you view this thread as a cry for help, rather than any genuine attempt at reporting.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    What with the Englzes and their outbreaks of bird flu we need to keep these ornithological imperialists out of our green and pleasant land – well that sounds like a good excuse anyway.

  • susan

    Ah, Pete. I actually thought it was sweet the way McGuinness singled out the children of the Tor Bank School for public praise.

    And I’ve a funny feeling if he’d sent out a formal request for everyone to head for the underbrush with camouflage binoculars in hand and decoy twigs taped to their heads some might have quibbled with that, too.

    Most of it is all for the birds in the end, innit?

  • Rory

    I am all in favour of this “twitching” business and I am sure that it is preferable to traditional “Ulster” hobbies such as dog-baiting and wife-beating. It may even be more uplifting than stargazing or attacking carnivores at the supermarket meat counter – current popular pastimes both.

    Indeed I bought Herself a pair of binoculars for a Christmas present after she expressed an interest and I am hoping it will encourage her to get offside and leave the internet free for me to pursue my hobbies of having fun on Slugger and conducting uplifting correspondence with the ever delightful Madamoiselles Fifi and Trixibelle (Masseuses to the discerning elderly gentleman. Complete confidence assured).

    Do Sinn Féin have a current line on these hobbies, I wonder? I cannot recall either being on any recent Ard Fheis agenda. What is the DUP line?

  • Rory,

    Not to knock this thread off course again, but here is Charlie Beckett of the Polis think tank at LSE on the role of pedantic bloggers in the downfall of Hain (

    “Guido and the bloggers generally have pursued the complex and often dull tale of Labour campaign finance with a doggedness that only the deeply politically-motivated and detail-obsessed can muster.”

    Pete’s doggedness and eye for minute detail was, in my own estimation, a key to unlocking some of the preliminaries to the main Westminster event.

    My own estimation of his work does not lie in its capacity to amuse and entertain commenters, but in its unerring capacity to cut to the significant detail that myself and the mainstream media would otherwise miss.

    Blessed are the pendants…

  • cut the bull


    I could’nt say for certain but i’m sure Sinn Féiners also support the RNLI or shock horror maybe even the RSPCA and if minsiters relase statements calling for support or backing up campaigns by these groups.

    I wouldn’t think it shocking that those statements may not appear on the party web-site, not shocking but a bit surprising.

  • The__Raven

    Umm…sorry to not get drawn into the political aspects of this…and ummm…sorry to kinda be a bit nerdy…but…

    If folks COULD devote a bit of time to this, it would be great. I don’t think people realise how bad things are for our feathered friends at the moment. Without getting too twitchy, around 30-40 million songbirds are killed each year by cats. Add to that cars rolling over them, reduction in habitat, a cold snap, whatever – things are a bit bleak at the moment.

    To give you a real idea of how bad it is, this year saw starlings (of all things) added to the red status list.

    Cheers and thanks for reading.

    PS Ravens are still green status…phew…

  • Rory

    We are all no doubt indebted, Mick, to all those intrepid bloggers who relentlessly pursued Hain through the dingy alleyways of tireless research without flinching.

    This thread however seems somehow strangely unrelated to that story. Indeed it seems strangely unrelated any “story” whatsoever. Wherein lies it’s pleasure I suppose insofar as it provides endless opportunity for that poking of fun we may have when a blogger’s political leanings overreaches his material.

  • Pete Baker

    And what material has been over-reached, Rory?

    Is there any factual error in the original post?

    Is there an unsubstantiated conclusion reached?


    Whether or not there is a significance in the ommission of the statement from the SF website is open to argument – I’ve just noted that it is there.. or rather that it’s not there.

    If it’s not significant, it’s not significant.

    But pretending that the ommission doesn’t exist seems to echo another incident.