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Titchwell reserve launches Birdwatch programme

Titchwell Birdwatch weekend'Ellen (left) and Emily Stringer fill giant fir cones with fats and nuts to hang in their garden
Titchwell Birdwatch weekend'Ellen (left) and Emily Stringer fill giant fir cones with fats and nuts to hang in their garden

The RSPB’s Titchwell nature reserve helped to launch the charity’s 30th countrywide Big Garden Birdwatch initiative at the weekend.

The coastal reserve was opened for the public to learn more about the many species of birds that visit their gardens.

Called the Big Garden Birdwatch Bonanza, the event was organised by resident volunteer, Blair Johnston.

He said: “It’s a family event to help children get to know their garden birds and learn how to make feeders”

On hand were all the materials visitors needed to make bird cakes of lard, peanut butter and nuts. They could also make bird feeders constructed from plastic bottles to hold seeds and nuts.

There was also the chance for visitors to familiarise themselves with a variety of birds as they followed a nature trail though part of the reserve, a questionnaire in hand to test their knowledge.

Each year several hundred thousand enthusiasts across the country sit down, many with binoculars, a cup of tea and a notebook to spend an hour counting those that visit their garden or local open green space.

It’s the biggest event in the RSPB’s calendar and a vital tool to enable the society to record the fortunes of Britain’s many colourful birds.

The annual surveys help keep track of the population increase and decrease in the numbers of many species of birds from year to year.

More and more their lives are threatened by the by-products of modern living such as loss of habitat and pesticides and herbicides.

The volunteer birdwatchers’ work has provided the RSPB with an enormous data bank of the fortunes of common and less common birds such as the tit family, buntings, wagtails, goldfinches, woodpeckers, magpies, sparrows and the once common but now rarely seen yellowhammer known in Norfolk as the yellow canary.

The work is vital to track the health of many species of British birds.

Mr Johnston said: “Starling numbers have decreased by eighty per cent since the start of Bird Watch in 1979 and blue tits by 10 per cent in the last decade.”

But he added that there had also been a massive increase of eight hundred per cent in woodpigeons.

He also pointed out that British birds were not immune from the world-wide problem of non-degradable plastic currently making the headlines.

“There is a small chance they can eat small pieces and even feed them to their young,” he said.

The Big Garden Birdwatch weekend runs from Saturday until Monday. More details about how to get involved are available online at www.rspb.org.uk.


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