THOUSANDS of people across Dorset are expected to take part in the 2019 Big Garden Birdwatch next month. They will join an estimated half-a-million people nationwide to help provide the RSPB with its annual snapshot of the UK’s garden birds.

Now in its 40th year, the annual birdwatch is a chance for people of all ages to count the number of birds that visit their garden to help the RSPB build up a picture of how our feathered friends are faring at this time of year.

Morwenna Alldis, spokesperson for RSPB Dorset, said: “Thank you to everyone in Dorset who has taken part in our Big Garden Birdwatch over the last 40 years.

“Your surveys have helped us create a detailed picture of how our UK garden wildlife is doing, and how we can help those species that are most in need.

“Your records are vital to our work and alerted us to a 57 per cent drop in the number of house sparrows since the survey began in 1979. Thankfully, through targeting our conservation, and by you giving more nature a home in your Dorset gardens, in the last decade (2009-2018) their rate of decline has slowed and they have actually increased by 17 per cent.”

Registration is now open for the 2019 event which runs from January 26-28 2019. To mark the event in Dorset, the RSPB South West is encouraging participants to share their Big Garden Birdwatch stories. How will you #BigGardenBirdWatch? will showcase some of the best examples of how people take part from building their own birdwatching den, baking birdseed cakes and dressing up as Batman to see Robin.

Morwenna added: “For this special 40th anniversary weekend we want to celebrate you and discover how you do your Big Garden Birdwatch in Dorset. Do you take part from the comfort of your armchair looking out of the living room window?

Perhaps you layer up and head to your local park or nearest greenspace? Maybe you make a weekend of it, inviting friends and family over for tea and some bird shaped biscuits?

“Wherever you do your Big Garden Birdwatch, and whether this year will be your first time or your fortieth time – we’d love to hear from you. Share your stories and photos on Facebook/RSPBSW or Twitter @RSPBSouthWest – you may find yourself a star of our social media pages!”

Next year’s event takes place on January 26, 27 and 28. The public is asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their Dorset garden or local green space, then send their results to the RSPB.

Over the last 40 years, 130 million birds have been counted giving the RSPB an astonishing amount of insight into how our wildlife is faring.

Registration now open. For a free 40th anniversary Big Garden Birdwatch pack, which includes a bird identification chart, plus RSPB shop voucher and advice to help you attract wildlife to your garden, text BIRD to 70030 or visit