Published: 06:00, 22 April 2021
| Updated: 07:08, 22 April 2021
Record numbers of people took part in this year's Big Garden Birdwatch, organised by the RSPB.
Some 33,000 people in Kent and more than a million across the county, counted birds that visited their garden or open space for the 42nd annual birdwatch, helping the RSPB build up a picture of how birds are faring.
Over the first three days of submissions alone, numbers were up 85% compared to the same time period in 2020.
Beccy Speight, RSPB CEO said: “We have been blown away by the enthusiasm with which people have taken part in the Birdwatch this year. Lockdowns have brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people, right on their doorsteps.
“We hope the Birdwatch has kindled a new passion for wildlife for the thousands who took part for the first time this year – we need every voice raised to stand up for nature. The wildlife that gave us so much interest and solace is now just a fraction of what should be there. On the back of this wave of public support, we need the government to take the global leadership, policy and legislative opportunities open to it this year to reverse the decline and restore nature now.”
The house sparrow remained at the top of the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings in Kent as the most commonly seen garden bird. Found in nearly 70% of Kent gardens, across the country more than 2.6 million house sparrows were sighted throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, starlings and blue tits joined house sparrows to form the top three most sighted birds in Kent as local people enjoyed watching the wildlife found in their gardens.
The Big Garden Birdwatch revealed that nationally the house sparrow held on to its top spot, but 16 out of the top 20 bird species showed declines in average counts compared to last year. Starlings slid down the ranking from 2nd place for the first time since 2010, with numbers down 83% since 1979.
Further national declines were recorded for greenfinch and chaffinch, with the lowest average for both types of bird ever recorded during the Big Garden Birdwatch. Only robins, blackbirds, carrion crows and the song thrush saw an increase on 2020 across the UK.
The charity is also urging members of the public to take care as they return to the countryside near them as nature’s busiest season is underway. As breeding season begins, birds and other wildlife could be nesting nearby, with over half of England’s most threatened breeding birds nesting on or near the ground.
Find out about the RSPB’s Nature on Your Doorstep resources here.