Revealed: The results of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Survey 2013
- Credit: Ray Kennedy (rspb-images.com)
This winter's big freeze drove some unusual visitors to the region's back yards in search of food, according to the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch 2013.
During the last weekend in January, the RSPB asked people to take an hour to watch and count the birds in their garden or local park – with 14,000 contributors in Norfolk joining the national effort of more than 500,000 people.
The results show the most commonly seen birds in the county were the blackbird, seen in 94pc of gardens and the wood pigeon, seen in 77pc.
But the cold conditions of the survey weekend compared to the previous year meant many birds were recorded which would not normally be seen in domestic gardens.
Fieldfares, which usually prefer farmland habitats, were seen in four times as many gardens this year compared to 2012, while there were twice as many records of mistle thrushes and siskins.
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But the survey also highlighted the continued decline of some of the nation's most recognisable birds.
While the house sparrow is still the most commonly-seen garden bird in England, its numbers have dropped from 15 birds per garden when the survey began in 1979, to fewer than four today.
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Reports of the once-common starling fell by 2pc compared to last year, and are now at just a fifth of the numbers recorded in 1979.
Erica Howe, RSPB communications officer for the eastern region, said: 'It is evidence such as this that demonstrates what a crucial role the Big Garden Birdwatch plays in showing population trends amongst our beloved garden birds.
'As the world's largest wildlife survey, it provides data which we wouldn't be able to collect in any other way.
'We have been waiting for the Big Garden Birdwatch results with baited breath. In 2012 we had unseasonably warm weather at the end of January and of course it was very cold this year, so we expected some differences in the numbers and types of birds people were seeing in their gardens.
'I'm really pleased that so many people got involved this year, despite the cold weather. The birds in our gardens need our help more than ever when there's ice and snow on the ground and I know lots of people were feeding the birds in their gardens in the run-up to the Birdwatch.
'I hope this has inspired them to continue helping the wildlife in the garden through the chilly few months since January.'