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Thousands take part in annual birdwatch in West Norfolk

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More than 15,000 people in Norfolk took part in the Great British Birdwatch, organised by the RSPB.

This year marks the 43rd year of the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch with over 700,000 in the UK taking part, counting over 11 million birds.

The birdwatch happens yearly, and is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their garden, giving RSPB scientists an insight into how our garden birds are coping.

House sparrow. Credit: Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com) (55997819)
House sparrow. Credit: Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com) (55997819)

In Norfolk, house sparrow took the top spot, followed closely by blue tit and wood pigeon.

Next came blackbird, starling and goldfinch. Long-tailed tits showed a sharp decline, seen in 20 per cent fewer Norfolk gardens. Coal tits fared even worse being noted in 24 per cent fewer gardens.

Jays were seen in nearly 35 per cent more gardens, with only the common gull recording such an increase.

In the UK overall, jays moved up nine places to 23, an increase of 73 per cent compared to 2021 figures.

RSPB’s chief executive, Beccy Speight said: “We don’t know the reasons for the sudden increase in jay sightings this year. It may be down to food availability as we have reports that last year was poor for acorns”.

She also said: “It’s been brilliant to see so many people taking part again this year, taking time out to watch and reconnect with birds and then generously submit their sightings to help RSPB scientists”.

The house sparrow remained at the top of the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings as the most commonly seen UK garden bird, with over 1.7 million sightings over the weekend.

Over its four decades, Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the big garden world, including the crash in greenfinch population caused by severe outbreak of the disease trichomonosis, and as a consequence the species was added to the UK Red List last year.

This infection is spread through contaminated food and water, with garden owners being told to clean their bird feeders regularly to slow transmission rates.

Many schools across Norfolk also joined the birdwatch, with wood pigeons and blackbirds being named as the most commonly seen at schools.

The RSPB will also be hosting events on its nature reserves for Dawn Chorus day on Sunday, May 1.

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