Small birds bounce back in RSPB’s garden survey

Many small birds have made a comeback across the region, the RSPB's latest Big Garden Birdwatch has revealed.

The blackbird tops the league table in both Norfolk and Suffolk for a second year, cementing its position with an increase in numbers.

However, the most significant trend is the heartening rise in the number of blue tits, long-tailed tits and great tits observed after a noticeable decline last year.

One change in Norfolk – but not in Suffolk – is the starling and house sparrow swapping positions on this year's leader board with the house sparrow moving to number two and the starling down to number three.

Across the UK, more than 600,000 people took part in the birdwatch – a record-breaking number – with 13,500 in Norfolk alone counting their garden visitors during one hour over the weekend of January 29 and 30.

About 98pc of Norfolk participants spotted an average of four blackbirds during the survey.

Behind starlings and house sparrows came blue tits and wood pigeons, an average of at least two of each bird being seen in half the gardens surveyed.

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Across the UK, the house sparrow topped the list with the starling second and blackbird third; sightings of goldcrests doubled, long-tailed tits increased by a third and coal tits increased by a quarter. Thousands of people in Norfolk were lucky enough to see waxwings – this year seeing an influx of the visitors from Scandinavia.

The long harsh winter of 2009/10 hit birds like long-tailed tits, goldcrests and coal tits with all three species dropping significantly in last year's birdwatch.

RSPB spokesman Rachael Murray said: 'Although smaller birds can be badly affected by harsh winters, a good breeding season can help reverse declines and these new results suggest that may have been the case in 2010. But we must not be complacent – another hard winter could see numbers back down so it is important everyone continues to feed their garden birds.'

Almost 90,000 schoolchildren and teachers took part in the schools version of the survey – Big Schools Birdwatch – including 1,991 children and staff from 40 schools in Norfolk.

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