What do Strictly Come Dancing winner Bill Bailey, Prince Philip and young environmental campaigner Mya-Rose Craig have in common? The answer, surprisingly, is birdwatching. If you enjoy watching our feathered friends, you're officially a birder - and if you study them scientifically you're an ornithologist.
Regardless of definitions, birdwatching has become an increasingly popular pursuit during lockdown. And although you can spend £5,000 plus on a top of the range pair of binoculars, there are lots of cheap (cheep?) alternatives! Plus you'll need a bird guidebook or online site to help you identify birds, and you may want to use a notebook, pen and camera phone to record what you see.
Younger kids in particular are fascinated by nature and this weekend's Big Garden Birdwatch (29th - 31st January) is the perfect time to get them involved.
Of course, you don't need to spend anything at all to enjoy watching out for birds in winter - and all year round - and it's a great incentive to get out in the fresh air. Here are five interesting facts for would be birdwatchers.
Most common bird
Although the robin gets starring role on cards, the most common British bird is actually the wren. It's the shortest British bird but has the loudest song in proportion to its size. The wren isn't the most commonly seen garden bird - this honour goes to the house sparrow - so how many can you spot this winter?
Blue tits can be seen in most British gardens and they prefer to remain near where they hatch - so encourage them to stay by putting up a welcoming nesting box. A blue tit's favourite nesting spot is a hole in a tree but they've been found in letterboxes and even on street lamps!
In contrast, some starlings migrate from Scandanavia, Belgium and Holland to spend the winter in the UK before leaving by March, before the breeding season. They're very sociable birds and can be attracted to your garden by a well stocked bird feeder.
Year round singers
The robin is one of the few British birds that sings all year round. It's spring song starts from mid December and gets louder as time passes. Robins do this to attract a mate as well as to defend their territory. They usually sing when hidden in a tree or bush, so you may have to wait until feeding time to see one.
Name that tune
Even if you can't see birds, you can listen out for them! The RSPB has a brilliant playlist of the more common songs with entries ranging from blackbirds to woodpigeons. You may have to wait for some to start singing as spring approaches, but this is a great time to start learning birdsong!
Feeding birds in winter
And if you want to attract more birds to your garden, you'll find some helpful tips on what to feed birds in winter in our accompanying blog post. They'll be grateful for your help all year round, but it's especially important to watch out for them now when foraging for natural supplies is more difficult.
Lastly, if you're looking for gifts for a birder or nature lover of any age, take a look at our new Garden Wildlife Gift Box collection. You'll find more birdfeeders, birdhouses and nesters, as well as habitats for other wildlife including hedgehogs, bugs, bees and butterflies in our Nature Shop.