Watch the birdies!

Katherine Ashbridge, Customer Service Advisor at Heighley Gate Nursery & Garden Centre, gets ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend.
Katherine Ashbridge, Customer Service Advisor at Heighley Gate Nursery & Garden Centre, gets ready for the Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend.

A GARDEN centre is asking Northumberland residents to be on the lookout for feathered friends.

The team at Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre near Morpeth is raising awareness of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

Those who want to take part are asked to spend an hour watching the birds in their garden or park and make a note of the highest number of each species seen on the ground at any one time, before entering the findings online.

Heighley Gate’s General Manager Roger Wale said: “The Big Garden Birdwatch weekend is designed to help raise awareness of the RSPB and its important conservation work, as well as provide the organisation with a vital snapshot of the UK’s bird population.

“We are offering people the chance to pick up free bird-spotting charts from the garden centre and we will be recording our sightings on-site during the weekend too.

“January is the best time to see birds because the often harsh winter weather brings them into our gardens seeking food and shelter.

“Birds are essential to a healthy garden as they eat bugs so they need to be encouraged and looked after by gardeners – by putting food out for them you are increasing their chances of survival hugely.”

More than 600,000 people took part in the 2011 survey and they counted more than 10million birds. House sparrows retained the top spot for the eighth year running with an average of four seen per garden.

To register for this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, and download a recording sheet, go to www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch