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Politicians invited to Archbishop's Lambeth Palace gardens for Big Garden Birdwatch

by Ros Mayfield

Lambeth Palace joined forces with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

The UK’s biggest citizen science experiment was taking place over the weekend 26-28 January, with hundreds of thousands of people recording which birds are visiting our gardens.

To preview the event, a group of MPs were invited to the gardens at Lambeth Palace, to get an early morning experience of how it works.

The official home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the south bank of the River Thames, is situated just across the river from Big Ben and Palace of Westminster, and includes some of Britain’s oldest gardens. 

The building itself dates, in parts, from 1197.  The gardens have been tended continuously for over 800 years and are home to robins, parakeets, blue tits and grey tits as well as wrens.

Labour MP Luke Pollard was one of those invited, posting later on social media:

Up early today to walk around Lambeth Palace gardens with the RSPB @Natures_Voice for their Big Garden Birdwatch that kicks off this weekend. Sign up and be part of this incredible nationwide citizen science to count the birds in your garden.

Pollard later said that it was an exciting opportunity to see behind the walls of the Archbishop’s famous home for the first time.

Jenny Jones, who represents the Green Party in the House of Lords, was also there, posting about her learning experience:

A delight to start the day. A visit to Lambeth Palace Garden, courtesy of @Natures_Voice, for The Big Garden Birdwatch. I'm a bird novice, but we can all learn from those who know more.

And Amanda Solloway, Conservative MP for Derby North:

A lovely morning at Lambeth Palace Gardens for the @Natures_Voice Big Garden Birdwatch walk.

Over 300,000 people signed up to count birds and species in their garden this year. According to the RSPB, last year they counted 9 million birds, which helps the organisation work out which bird species are in decline and which ones are increasing or maintaining their population size.

The experiment is designed to monitor the UK’s bird populations.  The changing climate is placing some birds under threat, while others are altering their migration patterns to cope, which can have an impact on the food chain. 

In 2021, Archbishop Justin Welby said: ‘Jesus teaches us that there are no greater commandments than to love God and love our neighbour. To abide by those commandments as a Christian today is to step up to the challenge of climate change and connected environmental crises.’ 

The RSPB reports that 38 million birds have disappeared from UK skies in the last 60 years, while the number of Song Thrushes has fallen by 80 per cent since the survey began in 1979.

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