Who will be our top bird this year?

THE Big Garden Bird Watch (BGBW) falls this weekend - January 28 to 29 - and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is asking local people to spend an hour looking at the birds in their garden or park, and then send them the results of their observations.

The wildlife conservation charity utilises the information to draw up a picture of how our garden birds are faring, and some interesting results have been seen across County Antrim.

“Over the years, the RSPB has kept a close eye on the bird figures and there have been results that have saddened us greatly,” said Stephanie Sim of the RSPB. “For instance, across the UK, starling and house sparrow numbers are nowhere near where they used to be, with a decline of more than 50 per cent, and numbers of song thrush and blackbirds have also decreased.

“However, something very interesting has occurred over the last few years in County Antrim. If you compare 2002’s results to last year’s while the number of starlings has stayed the same, and house sparrows has increased by nearly two birds per garden (the mean average), and goldfinch which was not even in the top fifteen, outranks the robin now! This is a considerable achievement for a bird which was no where and it demonstrates that while there can be general trends, regional differences are so important.”

To take part in the BGBW go to: www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch