WILDLIFE lovers in Ashbourne are being asked to help with an annual nationwide survey of the population of the area’s birdlife.
The RSPB is running its Big Garden Birdwatch on Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27 and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to spend an hour studying their garden or their local park.
Almost 600,000 people across the UK took part in last year’s event, counting more than 9 million birds, and noting the highest number of each bird species they saw.
Sarah Houghton, RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch manager, said: “Everyone who takes part in Big Garden Birdwatch is contributing to the World’s biggest wildlife survey and helping us learn more about some of our most familiar garden birds.
“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.”
Anyone taking part in the survey is asked to spend one hour logging which birds they see, then marking them down and sending their results to the RSPB.
Now in its 34th year, the survey provides the RSPB with an important snapshot of garden bird populations in winter and has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds.
Schools will also be invited to take part in a separate survey run alongside called the Big Schools Birdwatch.
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.
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.
To find out more, or to register to take part in the survey visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch or call 0300 456 8330 to receive a pack.