Keep an eye on garden birdlife

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NATURE lovers in Northumberland are being invited to become twitchers for an hour.

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch returns this weekend to help monitor the health of the county’s bird populations.

The scheme, which runs across the country and is the world’s biggest wildlife survey, works by residents spending an hour on Saturday or Sunday counting and recording the birds in their gardens or local parks.

This year the charity hopes that even more people will take part as the more results it receives, the clearer picture it has of the situation. It is particularly interested in finding out what effect the recent freezing conditions have had on garden birds.

RSPB People Engagement Manager for Northern England Carolyn Jarvis said: “Big Garden Birdwatch is great for the whole family to do together.

“It only takes an hour, but taking part can make a real difference to our knowledge of garden birds, helping us to work out which ones are doing well and which ones need help.

“You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to take part — in fact it is better if you stay indoors so as not to disturb the birds in your garden.”

Results from the 2010 survey found that the house sparrow was the most frequent visitor to Northumberland gardens, followed by the blackbird, chaffinch, starling and blue tit.

Morpeth’s Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre is supporting the initiative, with staff taking part in the count and the outlet displaying bird baths, tables, feeders and wild bird food over the weekend.

For more information, or to download results forms, visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch