A PURBECK nature reserve wants residents to join them to take part in the world's largest wildlife survey.

Staff at RSPB Arne, near Wareham, will be equipping people with the skills needed to participate in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.

This initiative sees participants donate one hour of their time to count bird numbers in their garden or local green space.

Eleanor Sunderland, visitor experience manager at RSPB Arne, said: "The purpose of the Big Garden Birdwatch is to record local sightings of birds and other wildlife so that we can get a snapshot of how garden wildlife is doing on a national scale.

"At RSPB Arne the shop team will be on hand to help people prepare for the Big Garden Birdwatch."

The nature reserve event, taking place over the same weekend as the Big Garden Birdwatch, will show people how to create a bird haven in their gardens. Experts will be on hand to give tips on how to attract garden birds and how to prevent the spread of disease.

Visitors will even be able to stay and carry out their survey on the reserve if they wish.

Eleanor said: "You can also take your new-found skills away to take part in your own area. Every count is important, even if you don’t see anything.

"Observing which birds aren’t around is as important as seeing the ones that are.

"With over half a million people now regularly taking part, Big Garden Birdwatch allows us to monitor trends and helps us understand how birds are doing.

"Your results help us spot problems, but more importantly, it's also the first step in putting things right.”

Meanwhile, Sarah-Jane Buckle, retail manager at RSPB Arne, said: "An hour with the birds is a wonderful opportunity to sit back, relax and spend time with nature.

"You can even relax with a cup of tea from the RSPB Arne Cafe, and start counting the birds that visit our feeders.

"We will have volunteers on hand to help identify the species we see taking part in the survey too. After the hour is up, tell us what you saw.”

The RSPB Arne event takes place on Saturday, January 25 and Sunday, January 26, from 11am-2.30pm on both days.

The Big Garden Birdwatch runs from January 25-27.

Visit rspb.org.uk/birdwatch for details.