BIRDWATCHERS in Hampshire are being encouraged to join the world's largest garden wildlife survey this month.

The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, which saw over 19,400 people in Hampshire take part in 2023, will take place on January 26-28.

Hampshire residents are asked to spend an hour watching and counting the birds in their garden, balcony or local park, then send their results to the RSPB.

This year’s event marks 45 years since the first Big Garden Birdwatch, which started in 1979 to help the RSPB understand how garden birds are doing in the UK.

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Since 1979, 185 million birds have been counted and nearly 11.5 million hours have been spent watching and counting garden birds.

Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s chief executive, said: “By taking part in the Birdwatch you are joining hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK, united in a love of nature, to play an important role in helping us understand how UK birds are doing.

"Big Garden Birdwatch demonstrates the power that people have when they come together for nature. Join us for Big Garden Birdwatch 2024 and together let’s take action to help birds and other wildlife thrive for generations to come.”

Over its four decades, Big Garden Birdwatch has highlighted the winners and losers in the garden bird world.

The Long-tailed Tit, a much-loved species, rose five positions in the rankings last year, with numbers 39 per cent higher than in 2022.

The UK Chaffinch population has declined by 37 per cent, with Greenfinches having declined by 62 per cent over the last decade due to a disease known as Trichomonosis.

Song Thrush numbers have declined by 80 per cent since the first Big Garden Birdwatch in 1979, with the species being a firm fixture in the top 10.

However, by 2009, numbers decreased to less than half than recorded 30 years prior. The Song Thrush scraped in at number 20 in the rankings this year, seen in just nine per cent of gardens. 

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Beccy added: “The birds we see in our gardens, from our balconies, and in our parks, are a lively, colourful and endlessly fascinating part of all our lives.

"By taking part in the Birdwatch, you and hundreds of thousands like you, play an important role in helping us understand how UK birds are doing.

"With birds and other wildlife now facing so many challenges due to the nature and climate emergency, every count matters.”

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch, sign up on the RSPB website then simply watch the birds on your balcony, in your garden or local green space for one hour at some point on 26, 27 or 28 January.

According to the RSPB, you should only count the birds that land, not those flying over, then log the highest number of each bird species you see at any one time – not the total you see in the hour, and then send your results into the RSPB.

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