Last modified: 16 August 2012
Image: Nigel Blake
The results of the RSPB’s annual Make Your Nature Count survey show the number of gardens with baby thrush species in them this spring was down by as much as 27 per cent compared to last year.
Sightings of baby blackbirds, robins and song thrushes - 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.
Nearly 1.500 people in East Sussex took part in the survey during the first week of June and logged the birds and other wildlife species they saw in their gardens.
House martins were down by almost a quarter and swifts were down by around 10 per cent compared to last year. Swifts are already on the amber-list of conservation concern and there is concern that it has been a devastating breeding season in the UK this year.
Samantha Stokes, spokesperson for RSPB South East, said: “Every participant 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.”
However, some creatures may have fared a little better in the wet conditions. Moles were reported in over 11 per cent of the gardens surveyed in East Sussex. Wetter weather would have made the ground softer and easier to dig through, and meant an increase in the number of earthworms available.
While their chicks were being reported in fewer numbers, adult blackbirds were still being seen in good numbers. Recorded in nearly 90 per cent of the gardens surveyed, they were the most widespread bird across the UK.
Grey squirrels were the most common wild mammal seen and were reported from more than two thirds of gardens, with badgers in almost 30 per cent of the county’s gardens.
Over 25 per cent of the gardens surveyed in East Sussex had slow worms recorded 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 www.rspb.org.uk/naturecount 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 www.rspb.org.uk/hfw