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Small garden bird numbers rising

Small garden birds which were hit by the long harsh winter a year ago appear to have bounced back this year, the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch has revealed.

Goldcrests, long-tailed tits and coal tits all saw numbers increase significantly in the latest survey of birds seen in people's gardens, which took place at the end of January.

Numbers of goldcrests more than doubled, while sightings of long-tailed tits increased by a third and coal tits were up by almost a quarter.

According to the RSPB, small birds can be particularly badly hit by harsh winters but a good breeding season can help turn around their fortunes, and the results from the poll suggest this may have been the case in 2010.

The survey also recorded more than 7,000 waxwings in almost 1,000 gardens as the striking birds came to the UK from Scandinavia in an influx known as a "waxwing winter" which occurs every few years.

More than 600,000 people took part in this year's birdwatch which saw house sparrows top the list of commonly seen birds for the eighth year running.

But while sparrow numbers were up 10% on last year, they were far lower than they were when the first birdwatch took place in 1979.

The same is true for other birds in this year's top 10 most common species in gardens. Starling numbers increased by a quarter this year to put them into the second spot but overall their numbers have fallen by three quarters since 1979.

Other garden favourites have seen numbers drop in the past three decades, with robin sightings falling by a quarter and blackbirds and chaffinches down by around a fifth since 1979.

But blue tits, great tits, wood pigeons and collared doves are all being spotted in greater numbers than they were in 1979, and the goldfinch, which was not seen in gardens when the survey started, is now the eighth most common visitor seen by householders.

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From Belfast Telegraph