Results of county survey to spot the birdie

A song thrush
A song thrush
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The results of the RSPB’s annual Make Your Nature Count survey show the number of gardens with baby thrush species in them this spring was down by as much as 27 per cent compared to last year.

Sightings of baby blackbirds, robins and song thrushes – all members of the thrush family – were down on last year.

The number of robins seen in Northamptonshire gardens has fallen

The number of robins seen in Northamptonshire gardens has fallen

The RSPB says the drop may be a result of wet and cold weather in the early part of the breeding season making it harder for adult birds to find enough food for their chicks.

With adult birds spending longer away from the nest searching for food, chicks would also have been more exposed to the cold.

A total of 910 people in Northamptonshire took part in the survey during the first week of June and logged the birds and other wildlife species they saw in their gardens.

House martins were down by almost a quarter and swifts were down by about 10 per cent compared to last year.

Swifts are already on the amber-list of conservation concern and there is concern that it has been a devastating breeding season in the UK this year.

Dr Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “Every participant in Make Your Nature Count has helped to give us data on a scale that just wouldn’t be possible if we tried to collect it in any other way.

“It’s really useful as a snapshot of how UK wildlife fared this summer and a number of species may have had a tough time in the cold and wet weather.”

Last year Make Your Nature Count results reported a good year for breeding song thrushes and this year’s results confirmed that, with sightings of adult song thrushes up by 12 per cent on last year.

Adult blackbirds were also seen in good numbers, recorded as the most widespread bird across the UK and were seen in more than 90 per cent of the gardens surveyed.

Grey squirrels were the most common wild mammal seen and were reported from more than two thirds of gardens, with hedgehogs in almost half of gardens.

Ten per cent of the gardens surveyed were recorded as ever having slow worms in them.

This was the first time slow worms have been included in the survey. The RSPB says this will provide them with a baseline count of slow worms in Britain’s gardens, which they can measure against in future years to monitor their fortunes.

To find out more about Make Your Nature Count visit www.rspb.org.uk/naturecount or to get advice on how to make your garden a great habitat for wildlife visit the ‘Homes for Wildlife’ part of the RSPB website at www.rspb.org.uk/hfw.

The 10 most common bird species in Northamptonshire 2012:

1 – House sparrow

2 – Starling

3 – Woodpigeon

4 – Blackbird

5 – Goldfinch

6 – Blue tit

7 – Collared dove

8 – Jackdaw

9 – Chaffinch

10 – Dunnock

Make Your Nature Count is part of Stepping Up for Nature, the RSPB’s latest campaign to help save nature.

For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/steppingup.