People flock to take part in Big Birdwatch
AN ANNUAL survey has shown fewer garden birds are around today than in the past and experts say it is likely the trend will continue.
Now in its 34th year, the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch has grown in popularity, with more people across East Hampshire taking part, including schools and pubs, as well as garden owners.
But since it began, the number of garden birds recorded has steadily fallen, and although this year’s results aren’t due until March, experts predict it will be another bad year.
Hampshire RSPB spokesman Samantha Stokes said: “Generally the bird population is falling.
“For example, years ago bird watchers reported 15 starlings per garden, but last year only three per garden were seen.”
She added that the final number of East Hampshire schools and residents who took part hadn’t been tallied up yet, but she was hopeful it would be higher than last year.
Many reasons have been suggested for the shrinking bird population, ranging from fewer open spaces and smaller gardens as areas become more built up, to fewer flowers and trees being pollinated, meaning not so many insects and berries, and so less bird food.
Although the general population is in decline a few species are bucking the trend.
Miss Stokes said: “Birds like goldfinches were rarely seen years ago, but now they are more common.”
However the RSPB agrees this increase in sightings could be due to more bird watchers reporting garden birds.
But it’s not just small garden birds that are struggling to maintain numbers.
Owls, kestrels and other small raptors need all the help they can get, according to Phil Lavendar from Clanfield.
He makes and sites nesting boxes for them, recently putting some up in Queen Elizabeth Country Park.
Phil said: “There used to be lots of outbuildings in the countryside that were ideal nest sites for hawks and owls, but these have been replaced by new buildings or been converted into houses.
“There are also fewer suitable trees to nest in. Decaying trees make ideal nest sites and are monumentally important to wildlife but are considered dangerous to humans.
“So, being over-cautious, we generally have them felled. You’d think we were the endangered species!”
His handmade nest boxes are created using hard to recycle tyres, so not only do they help birds , they help save the environment, he added. For nest box details email email@example.com or contact him on 0790 1003201.
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Weather for Petersfield
Tuesday 10 December 2013
Temperature: -1 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 3 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South east