ONE of the pleasures of living in a county like Worcestershire is, in most areas, being able to look out on the garden to see and hear our native wild birds. I love the dawn chorus.

And to help preserve this little bit of nature in our own surroundings, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is encouraging Worcestershire families to take part in its Big Garden Birdwatch.

Apart from contributing to this annual project, which aims to collect information about our feathered friends and use it to support any struggling species, this event is a chance for people to spend an hour relaxing and appreciating what the natural world can offer right on our doorstep.

Last year nearly half a million people of all ages across the country took part in the event, making it the world’s biggest wildlife survey, and submitted their results to help build up a picture of how birds are faring at this time of the year.

More than eight and a half million birds were spotted visiting our gardens with house sparrow topping the list, along with some other familiar species like robin, blackbird and starling in the top 10.

This will be the 39th Big Garden Birdwatch and it takes place over three days starting this weekend on Saturday January 27 and finishing on Monday January 29.

And there is no excuse for those who don’t have a garden - people can take part by identifying and counting the birds in their nearest green space such as the local park, river or canal side, common or playing field.

The RSPB hopes to encourage even more families to take part in 2018 and it is keen to see how the figures will change following a positive year for some of the resident British birds, such as greenfinch, chaffinch, blue tit, great tit and long-tailed tit.

The numbers of greenfinches have been affected by Trichomonosis for the past decade and the disease has been documented in other garden birds, such as chaffinch. More recently there was a downward trend in Big Garden Birdwatch sightings of the tit species, which was thought to be linked to the prolonged wet weather in the 2016 breeding season.

However according to the RSPB, the 2017 season appeared to be a good one for these resident birds and that combined with the relatively favourable winter weather conditions has fuelled speculation that it could be a bumper weekend of sightings.

In Worcestershire, the top garden visitor last year was the house sparrow, followed by blackbird and blue tit.

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “At this time of the year your garden has the potential to be a vital source of food and shelter for the garden birds we all know and love, from the flock of starlings at the feeder to the robin perched on the fence.

“The Big Garden Birdwatch is all about enjoying the wildlife that comes to you and it’s really as simple as spending an hour looking out the window.

“You don’t need any special equipment, although a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake might be helpful. At the end of your hour, send us your results to tell us what you saw.”

“This year could be a bumper weekend of sightings for some of our resident British birds. Conditions during the breeding season were much better compared to recent years and our resident birds are likely to have been further helped by relatively kind autumn and winter weather. So keep your eyes peeled for the greenfinches, chaffinches and various tit species.”

With results from gardens from all corners of the UK, the RSPB is able to use the valuable data to build up a snapshot of the birds that are reliant on the food, water and shelter that can be found in outdoor spaces at this time of the year.

When combined with 38 years of data from previous Birdwatches, it allows the RSPB to monitor trends and understand which birds are struggling and are in need of our help.

A spokesman for the RSPB in the Midlands said once the results from this year’s survey are submitted, they are analysed and examined in the context of previous data to see how the birds are faring this year.

If any species are found to be struggling the RSPB targets its publicity campaigns to help support those particular birds.

Anyone who is concerned about being able to identify particular species will get some help when they register to take part online. They can download a free pack, which includes an identification chart of the most commonly seen British garden birds at this time of the year, by visiting

The RSPB is also asking about the other wildlife seen in our gardens over the last year, such as badger, fox, grey squirrel, red squirrel, muntjac deer, roe deer, frog and toad, to help build an overall picture of how important gardens are in giving nature a home.

David Sheldon, from the RSPB Midlands office, said: “With so much going on in our day-to-day lives, there’s something very appealing about taking an hour out to just sit and connect with some of the more familiar Midlands wildlife around living around us.

“It’s an opportunity to be really present and appreciate the moment, whether it’s time to yourself with a cup of tea, or together with the family. And then at the end of it, you get to contribute to important scientific work – how great is that!”

To take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018, simply spend an hour over the weekend watching the birds in your garden, outdoor space or local park. Once you have recorded the birds that make a visit, whether it’s a starling, sparrow or skylark, submit your results online at

Last year’s Big Garden Birdwatch revealed the most spotted bird was the house sparrow, followed by the blackbird with the blue tit coming third. Other birds in the top 10 were the woodpigeon, starling, robin, long-tailed tit, great tit goldfinch and magpie.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust communications manager Wendy Carter said she would encourage local residents to get involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch this and every year.

“It is a good exercise because the data that comes out of it is useful and, because so many people take part, you can see trends.

“It is also a really good engagement tool to get people interested in garden wildlife. It is a very simple way of getting people interested in their gardens and the natural world.

“We want people to get involved with anything that involves wildlife.”