POPULAR SIGHT: The robin was one of the top ten birds spotted in last year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
POPULAR SIGHT: The robin was one of the top ten birds spotted in last year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

HOUSEHOLDERS across the dale are being urged to take part in the biggest wildlife survey this weekend.
The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch will be held across three days, from January 29-31.
RSPB officials say the results collected from the survey help to monitor vital trends and are hoping even more people will take part than the 3,600 people across County Durham last year.
They say there has been a surge of interest in the wildlife found on people’s doorsteps as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns, with many finding their gardens a place of comfort in difficult times.
In last year’s survey, house sparrows topped the most spotted rankings both in the county and across the country.
Starlings and blue tits made up the top three species.
Other birds to feature in the top ten included the ever-popular robin along with the godlfinch.
Sightings of long-tailed tits were up by about a third last year.
By monitoring bird trends across the country, the data collected during the Big Garden Birdwatch helps the RSPB create a snapshot of numbers across the UK and how they have fared since the project began over 40 years ago.
To take part, people are asked to note down the birds they have seen in just one hour and submit their findings at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.
For those who are unsure what they are looking at, a free identification chart is available as part of a free Big Garden Birdwatch guide. Details on the website.
Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s chief executive, said: “We know that for many people, garden birds provide an important connection to the wider world and bring enormous joy.
“Lockdown brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many people. There has been a broad and much needed realisation that nature is an important and necessary part of our lives especially for our mental health and wellbeing.
“By taking part in the Birdwatch, you are helping to build an annual snapshot of how our birdlife is doing across the UK. It is only by us understanding how our wildlife is faring that we can protect it.
“We know that nature is in crisis but together, we can take action to solve the problems facing nature.”
Meanwhile, teachers can make use of the charity’s range of resources for RSPB’s parallel event, the Big Schools Birdwatch. Taking place during the first half of spring term to February 21.
The event is this year celebrating its 20th anniversary of connecting children with nature in their school grounds.
For a range of curriculum-based reources, go to  rspb .org.uk/schoolswatch.