Dorset Twitchers in Birdwatch Weekend
10:02am 26th January 2013
(Updated 10:03am 26th January 2013)
Budding twitchers in Dorset can take part in the world's biggest wildlife survey this weekend.
It's the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.
All you have to do is spend an hour noting down the highest number of each bird species you see in your garden or a local park.
Tony Whitehead, speaking for the RSPB in the West Country said; 'No matter where people take part, whether at home with the family, with classmates at school or with friends in a local park, we're joining forces to gather vital information about some of our most familiar garden birds. It's a great way to get to know the creatures that live around us, and that's especially important for children. Garden birds can often be a child's first encounter with wildlife and can spark a lifelong interest in nature."
Now in its 34th year, the Birdwatch has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds. In the first survey in 1979, an average of 15 starlings were seen per garden, but that fell to an average of just three starlings per garden in 2012, the lowest level ever. House sparrow numbers have fallen by two thirds over the lifetime of the survey too.
Tony continues; 'The declines of birds like starlings and sparrows over the last 30 years or so have been alarming, but Big Garden Birdwatch has helped us find out more about their numbers and distribution across UK gardens, and that has been the first step in helping to put things right.'
Some bird species have fared considerably better over the years. Sightings of popular species like blue tits, great tits and coal tits in gardens have increased since 1979. Goldfinches, which were absent from the Big Garden Birdwatch top 15 in the early years, have featured regularly as a top 15 species since 2004.
Visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch and www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch to find out how to take part at home or at school.