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Winners and losers of wet spring revealed

Last modified: 15 August 2012

Red squirrel sitting on fallen log

Red squirrels were reported in one fifth of Cumbria's gardens.

Image: Steve Round

The results of the RSPB’s annual Make Your Nature Count survey show the number of Cumbria gardens with baby thrush species in them this spring was down by as much as 21 per cent compared to last year. 

Sightings of baby blackbirds (-18%), robins (-22%) and song thrushes (-2%) - all members of the thrush family - were down on last year.  The RSPB says the drop may be a result of wet and cold weather in the early part of the breeding season making it harder for adult birds to find enough food for their chicks.  With adult birds spending longer away from the nest searching for food, chicks would also have been more exposed to the cold.

Nationally, more than 78,000 people took part in the survey during the first week of June and logged the birds and other wildlife species they saw in their gardens. 

Dr Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, says; ’Each of the 78,000 people involved in Make Your Nature Count has helped to give us data on a scale that just wouldn’t be possible if we tried to collect it in any other way.  It’s really useful as a snapshot of how UK wildlife fared this summer and a number of species may have had tough time in the cold and wet weather.”

Hedgehogs were the most common wild mammal seen in Cumbria and were reported in almost half of gardens, with red squirrels in one fifth.

Seven per cent of the Cumbria gardens surveyed were recorded as ever having slow worms in them. This was the first time slow worms have been included in the survey.  The RSPB says this will provide them with a baseline count of slow worms in Britain’s gardens, which they can measure against in future years to monitor their fortunes.

To find out more about Make Your Nature Count visit or to get tailored advice on how to make your garden a great habitat for wildlife visit the ‘Homes for Wildlife’ part of the RSPB website at

How you can help

Tell us about your garden and we’ll provide you with tailored wildlife-gardening advice!