MORE than 10,000 people took part in this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in Somerset counting the different species in their gardens in an hour any time over the last weekend of January.

The top three birds seen in the county’s gardens were house sparrows at number one, then starlings and blue tits.

Changes from previous years saw the long-tailed tit drop from number six to nine and the goldfinch move up from number seven to five.

Overall numbers of species such as blackbirds and chaffinches may appear to have dropped in gardens since last year but in many cases this is because they do not need to come into gardens during mild winters as plenty of natural food is available in the countryside.

But the decline of some species such as starlings – down 84% since 1979 – is alarming.

The decline of the house sparrow in Somerset appears to have slowed, although 62% have been lost since 1979.

Tony Whitehead, of the RSPB in the South-West, said: “2014 was always going to be an interesting Big Garden Birdwatch as the winter has been so mild