08:00 Thursday 23 January 2014

Binoculars at the ready for annual bird survey

Written byROB SMYTH

A photo of fungi that I took this afternoon at Jackson's Bank Woods near to Hoar Cross (nice and seasonal).. .Martin Handley.Tutbury..House Sparrow..Martin Handley.Tutbury. A photo of fungi that I took this afternoon at Jackson's Bank Woods near to Hoar Cross (nice and seasonal).. .Martin Handley.Tutbury..House Sparrow..Martin Handley.Tutbury.

BIRDWATCHERS in Burton and South Derbyshire will soon be picking up their binoculars to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch.

The RSPB revealed that more than 20,000 people in the area took part in the event last year, with even more expected to join in this weekend to document the wide array of birds occupying their gardens.

And this year, for the first time, participants are being asked to log some of the other wildlife they see too.

The RSPB also wants to know whether people see deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, frogs and toads in their gardens.

Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: “Winter has felt more like autumn for many of us and this could have a significant impact on the number of birds in our gardens.

“Birds come into gardens for food when they can’t find it in the wider countryside, but if insects and berries continue to be available long into winter, numbers visiting gardens may be down. The Big Garden Birdwatch will be really interesting this year and will be a good indication of just how much the weather affects their behaviour.

“The key thing for the RSPB is that even if you feel you don’t have as many birds in your garden compared to normal, we still desperately need your results. We will be able to compare results to other mild winter years and compare regional trends, so if you don’t see many birds, we still need to know – it’s really useful information.

“The more people that take part, the greater the understanding of the threats and solutions will be.”

Starlings hit an all-time low in the 2013 Birdwatch, with numbers sinking by a further 16 per cent from 2012.

House sparrows, which are a high conservation concern, dropped by 17 per cent.

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