Northern Ireland

Starlings keep NI top spot in RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Starling Image copyright Ben Andrew/RSPB
Image caption Starlings retained their status as the bird spotted most frequently in Northern Ireland gardens

Starlings remain the most common bird in Northern Ireland, according to a popular piece of citizen science.

The bird kept the top spot during this year's Big Garden Birdwatch, organised by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

Some 17,000 people participated in the charity's survey in January, spending an hour making notes of the birds that visited their gardens.

Almost 130,000 birds were recorded.

'Snapshot survey'

After starlings, the most common species were house sparrows, chaffinches, blue tits and blackbirds.

Image copyright Chris Gomersall/RSPB
Image caption Blue tits were among the top five most commonly spotted birds
Image copyright Chris Gomersall/RSPB
Image caption Blackbirds are familiar visitors to Northern Ireland gardens

Across the UK there was an increase in sightings of waxwings.

They flock to Northern Ireland's gardens once every few years, when the berry crop fails in their native Scandinavia.

Image copyright Andy Hay/RSPB
Image caption Waxwings were among the more unusual birds recorded by citizen scientists

Waxwings are not seen often in local gardens, but were spotted six times during the survey.

Joanne Sherwood, RSPB NI director, said: "To have so many people connecting with this huge citizen science initiative is amazing and the information gathered will really help create a snapshot of how our garden birds are doing."

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