Bird-lovers are being urged to lose themselves in nature this weekend to support a conservation charity.
The RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch, now in its 39th year, returns from Saturday (January 27) to next Monday (January 29).
The survey asks the public to watch their garden, or nearest green space, for an hour on one of the three days, record the maximum number of each species spotted at one time and send the results to the charity, either online or by post.
Around 500,000 people nationally are thought to have taken part in the survey last year – across West Sussex and East Sussex more than 15,500 individuals took part; the data collected provides the RSPB with a snapshot of the UK’s garden birds in each county, or per borough in London.
Tim Webb, of RSPB, said: “When was the last time you allowed yourself an hour to simply look at the nature around you?”
“Here in the south east we’re already seeing our birds respond to climate change and the Big Garden Birdwatch gives us insights into the private spaces our researchers can’t reach. So lose yourself in nature for 60 minutes.”
This year the RSPB is curious to see how figures will change following a positive year for some resident British birds, such as greenfinch, chaffinch, blue tit, great tit and long-tailed tit. According to the charity, the numbers of greenfinches have been impacted by trichomonosis for the last decade and the disease has been documented in other garden birds, such as chaffinch. More recently it says there was a downward trend in Big Garden Birdwatch sightings of the tit species, thought to be linked to the prolonged wet weather in the 2016. However, as 2017 was drier, it is speculated that 2018 could bring bumper sightings.
Tim added: “There is a deadly serious side to the survey but it’s great fun to do and always a delight to see the incredibly diverse range of creatures getting on with their lives under our noses; normally ignored or overlooked.”
Last year’s top five most commonly seen birds in West Sussex were the house sparrow (1), starling (2), woodpigeon (3), blue tit (4) and blackbird (5); the house sparrow also took the top spot in 2016.
For more details on the Big Garden Birdwatch, including bird identification sheets, visit www.rspb.org.uk