RESULTS flew in from across Oxfordshire for this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, with the rising number of volunteers as striking as that of the birds.

A total of 9,511 people in the county, up from 7,808 last year, lent their eyes for an hour a day during the weekend of January 24 and 25. Of these, 4,611 responses were received.

Twitchers grabbed their binoculars to record how birds and other wildlife are faring in gardens across the nation.

Participants counted the number of birds in their garden or local park, sending back their observations via a form, or through a live online ‘bird counter’.

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Joe Harris, warden at the RSPB Otmoor nature reserve in Beckley, said: “I’ve taken part in the Big Garden Bird Watch for the last five years and it’s always exciting.

“Wood pigeons and magpies were my most common visitors this year, but a few smaller birds such as blue tits and robins paid me a visit too. It’s always a hot topic of conversation in the office the day after.

“BGBW is a great example of ‘citizen science’ and is an easy and fun way for people to help monitor trends in bird populations, helping build up a picture of how garden bird species are coping with our changing environment.”

RSPB’s regional spokesman Fen Gerry said: “We are thrilled that over 2,000 more people from across Oxfordshire this year took part in RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, a fantastic result.

“The very fact that people across Oxfordshire are getting out to count their garden birds and provide the RSPB with significant data puts us all in a stronger position to work together to provide more suitable homes for nature.”

The most common bird spotted in Oxfordshire was the house sparrow, with 3.8 recorded on average per person per hour, up on last year’s 3.4. This was in line with national findings, as a long-term decline in house sparrows appeared to have slowed.

But it remains a ‘red-listed’ conservation concern, as overall numbers have dropped by 57 per cent since 1979.

Blackbirds and blue tits came in at a close second and third and were also on the increase, with a respective average of 2.8 and 2.5 seen per hour.

Goldfinches and chaffinches fared less well, with fewer than two spotted per person per hour.

RSPB conservation scientist Dr Daniel Hayhow said: “The weather can have varied effects on different groups of birds in terms of behaviour and habitats used.

“This year, a better seed supply in the countryside for finches means that we saw fewer visiting our gardens.

“On the other hand, during the cold spell, birds like blue tits and robins would still be more reliant on food found in our gardens.”

He added that the loss of greenfinches was probably to do with Trichomonoses disease, which affects garden birds.

The average Oxfordshire viewer saw a single robin each day, on average 1.4, making it the seventh most-seen variety up from 10th last year. The average number of robins across the UK was at its highest since 2011.

RSPB is asking people to create a space for wildlife, like a nest box, pond or hedgehog home, in their gardens and outside spaces. For more information visit