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Hard times for thrushes as sightings fall; Nature Notes.

Who are the winners and losers of West Midlands' wet spring? 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.

We believe the drop may be a result of wet and cold weather in the early part of the breeding season which made 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.

A total of 2,063 people in West Midlands 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 this year.

Every participant 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.

Last year, Make Your Nature Count results reported a good year for breeding song thrushes and this year's results confirmed that, with sightings of adult song thrushes, up by 12 per cent on last year. Adult blackbirds were also seen in good numbers, recorded as the most widespread bird across the UK and were seen in more than 90 per cent of the gardens surveyed.

Grey squirrels were reported from more than two thirds of gardens, with hedgehogs in almost half of gardens.

Ten per cent of the gardens surveyed were recorded as never having slow worms in them.

This was the first time slow worms have been included in the survey. This will provide us with a baseline count of slow worms in Britain's gardens, which we can measure against in future years to monitor their fortunes.

With gardens becoming increasingly important for birds and other wildlife, Homes for Wildlife is an exciting RSPB project offering free wildlife gardening advice helping people make the area around their home even better for wildlife.

Everybody registering to take part will receive an extensive information pack full of simple advice and recommendations for all types and sizes of garden.

Visit www.rspb.org.uk/hfw Fen Gerry, RSPB
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 23, 2012
Words:467
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