LETTER: This year’s Birdwatch data better than ever

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East Sussex residents have been revealing the secrets of their gardens for the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch.

We monitor wildlife in public spaces but it’s almost impossible to record what’s in private gardens.

This year’s data has been better than ever as more people took part, increasing the sample base compared with 2014. They’ve revealed the top three most common birds in East Sussex gardens are house sparrows, followed by blue tits and starlings.

Two of those top three species are on the red list of Birds of Conservation Concern, highlighting just how valuable our gardens can be.

House sparrows and starlings are categorized as being of ‘highest conservation priority’ as their national populations have nose-dived over recent years.

Understanding which birds use our gardens and being able to compare species and numbers with results from previous years reinforces how important these private spaces are. Together they add up to an area far greater than that designated as nature reserves.

Conservationists have been analysing records for all UK species and found an alarming 60 per cent decline across the board.

To know that we’re losing almost two-thirds of all UK wildlife is alarming enough. What worries me more is that all the effort and investment we’ve been making hasn’t prevented that loss. We know how to address it on our nature reserves and even in the public domain, but nature needs homes in private gardens too.

That’s why the annual Big Garden Birdwatch is so important. It shows a continuing downward slope for most of our birds. That doesn’t mean we should give up hope. Luckily we have plenty of advice for people who want to ease nature’s housing crisis.

Free advice on giving nature a home can be found at rspb.org.uk/homes.

Tim Webb

RSPB