Wildlife survey is a great thing to do and takes just an hour

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West Sussex residents are being urged to take some time out to count birds in gardens and parks for the world’s largest wildlife survey.

It takes just an hour to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch and will help the RSPB to see which species of bird are doing well or are in decline.

Lovers of wildlife have supported the event for the last 37 years and this year is bigger than ever, expanding from a two-day event to three days from Saturday January 28 to Monday January 30.

Sara Humphrey from the RSPB said: “In 2016, Starlings continued to feature in the top three visitors to West Sussex gardens, but were recorded in 5.4 per cent fewer gardens than in 2015. This decline continues a national trend which has seen the number of starlings visiting gardens decline by 81 per cent since the first Birdwatch in 1979. Sightings increased of smaller rural birds in gardens with species like goldfinch and great tit showing a similar rise to that in East Sussex.”

More than 85,000 people across the South East took part in last year’s survey and nationally half a million people counted eight-and-a-half million birds.

The RSPB hopes that even more people will take part in this year’s event and provide an important snapshot of the country’s wildlife.

Tim Webb from the RSPB said: “All of the data people send in is really important for building a picture of wildlife in gardens throughout the UK.

“We are losing our most common birds and understanding those declines is the beginning of the struggle to identify and address the causes.”

To take part, all people have to do is watch the birds around them for just one hour at any point over the three days.

They are asked to only count the birds that land, not those flying over. Then tell the RSPB the highest number of each bird species they see at any one time,

For a free Big Garden Birdwatch pack, text BIRD to 88008 (Network charges may apply), call freephone 0800 665 468 or visit rspb.org.uk (http://bit.ly/2hBeLKM).