More than half a million people are expected to be watching their garden birds this weekend (January 25-26), for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.
Last year more than 8,000 East Sussex residents joined in to spot birds in their garden and find out which species are doing well and which are struggling.
And with many of the UK’s most common garden birds and other creatures in decline, the charity needs participation more than ever.
In 2013 the house sparrow was the most frequently reported bird in East Sussex gardens with 50 per cent of respondents seeing more than three. The blue tit came second, with 83 per cent seeing more than three. In third place was the starling, with 42 per cent seeing two.
The top three line-up of most common garden birds is the same as in 2013, but numbers of goldfinches, long tailed tits, song thrushes and wrens have fallen.
The weather plays an important role in the number of garden birds each winter and experts are interested to see if the helter-skelter conditions so far this year mean birds seem scarce, or appear in droves.
Whatever happens with the weather this weekend, results will be compared with those from past winters stretching back to the first Big Garden Birdwatch in 1979.
Any changes alert experts to track winners and losers in the garden bird world and long-term trends stand out even when year-to-year weather differences are taken into account.
People are asked to spend just one hour at any time of the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species in their gardens or local outside space at any one time.
They then have three weeks to submit their results to the RSPB, either online at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch or in the post.
This year, for the first time in over 30 years, people are asked to log other wildlife they see in their gardens too.
The RSPB also wants to know whether people ever see deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, frogs and toads in their gardens.
With the charity’s new Giving Nature a Home campaign meaning even more people than ever before are providing their wild creatures with new habitats, the RSPB will be able to help build an overall picture of how important our gardens are for giving all types of nature a home.