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Help with world's biggest bird survey

PUBLISHED: 12:08 25 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:04 06 July 2010

AROUND half a million people are expected to be watching the garden birds this weekend for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.

As Britain has endured its harshest winter since the launch of Big Garden Birdwatch over 30 years ago, The RSPB is particularly keen to know how the wintry conditions have affected garden bird numbers and whether people see any unusual visitors.

AROUND half a million people are expected to be watching the garden birds this weekend for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.

As Britain has endured its harshest winter since the launch of Big Garden Birdwatch over 30 years ago, The RSPB is particularly keen to know how the wintry conditions have affected garden bird numbers and whether people see any unusual visitors.

There has been huge interest in garden birds during the snowy weather, with RSPB switchboards and website being inundated with people looking for advice on feeding hungry garden birds and help identifying unusual visitors.

Big Garden Birdwatch should help us understand the effects of the prolonged cold weather.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's director of conservation, said, “We can expect to see some more unusual visitors to gardens, particularly redwings, fieldfares and tree sparrows that are struggling to find food elsewhere.”

The extraordinarily harsh weather is particularly bad for birds with small bodies like robins, long tailed-tits and wrens.

Dr Avery said: “It's unlikely the long tailed tit, which famously flew into tenth place in 2009, will remain in the top ten this year. “Sadly, we may even see the nation's favourite garden bird, the robin, also fall out of the top ten in 2010. If this is the case, it'll be the first time the robin hasn't featured in the top ten since the start of the survey.”

The RSPB is also keen to identify any regional variations that occur as birds fly to milder regions in search of areas less affected by the weather or where natural food is still readily available.

Helen Leach, the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch co-ordinator, said: “Big Garden Birdwatch is a fun, easy activity that anyone can do.

“All you need is a pen, some paper and just one hour of your time over the weekend January 30 to 31. Record the highest number of each species seen at any one time and send us your results. It's that simple! Reports of fieldfares and redwings have been flooding in over the last few weeks so we're really interested in what will turn up in eastern regional gardens this year.”

Visit the RSPB website www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch for more information and to submit your results online.

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