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Issue:- 27 March 2015

Merseyside bucks national trend as magpie climbs to the top of the table in RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch

RESULTS of the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch revealed; the world's largest school wildlife survey.  While blackbirds are once again found to be the most spotted species in playgrounds across the UK, this is not the case in Merseyside, where magpies have stolen the show.

89% of schools that took part nationally in the Big Schools' Birdwatch survey reported seeing blackbirds, with an average of 7 birds seen per school, which is a significant a jump from last year's figures which averaged 5 of these songbirds per playground. In Merseyside, blackbirds did climb up the sightings table from 8th to 3rd position, with an average of 4 per playground. However, it was the magpie which took the top spot, with an average of 5 per playground.

While starlings held onto the number 2 spot nationally, they fell 2 places in Merseyside to 5th position, with an average of 4 starlings seen per playground.

For the 1st time ever, house sparrows made the top 3 nationally, jumping 2 places from 5th position last year. House sparrows were spotted at more than ½ of all schools; the average counted during the hour long survey was 4. In Merseyside, house sparrows climbed to 9th position, with an average of 3 spotted per playground.

More than 1,000 people in Merseyside took part in the Big Schools' Birdwatch, in which a record breaking 90,000 pupils and teachers counted the birds in their school grounds for 1 hour of one day in the 1st ½ of Spring Term, 5 January 2015 to 13 February 2015. The survey is part of RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch; the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world; which continued the record breaking theme, with over 585,000 people taking part in this citizen science initiative over Birdwatch weekend, at the end of January 2015.

Big Schools' Birdwatch has been running for over a decade and helps to track numbers of birds in school grounds, providing an insight into how species are faring and inspiring children to give nature a home. Participating schools received a certificate and a free wildlife poster once they completed the activity and sent in their results.

Emma Reed, the RSPB's Education Officer for Northern England, said:- "It's fantastic to see so many children and teachers taking part in Big Schools' Birdwatch, and seeing the results from this year's bumper survey gives us further insight into helping our feathered friends thrive. The Birdwatch is a fun, interactive and educational activity which not only enthuses children about wildlife, but supports the curriculum and encourages them to help us give nature a home for future generations to enjoy."

The bird with the most significant change in the national rankings is the song thrush, which rose from 24th to 21st place. Just over 600 song thrushes were recorded last year, contrasting to over 1,400 this year; a welcome increase as song thrushes are a bird of conservation concern, with numbers dropping by 70% since the Big Garden Birdwatch began. Reflecting the Big Garden Birdwatch results, chaffinches and goldfinches have taken a dip in school grounds too, however greenfinches appear to be an exception to the rule by jumping up by one position into the 24th spot nationally.

There is better news for the house sparrow, as its long term decline appears to have continued to slow. However, it remains a species of conservation concern as overall numbers have dropped by 57% since 1979 according to Big Garden Birdwatch data.

Overall, average numbers of birds spotted appear to be substantially up this year; but experts believe this is more likely to be because of the colder weather we experienced around the period of the survey compared to last winter. Numbers of birds in gardens, parks and school grounds also varies depending on the availability of a range of natural food sources. The dip in the number of finch sightings this year could indicate a plentiful supply of seeds in the wider countryside following a good summer, meaning that species such as finches are less reliant on bird feeders.

This survey is a part of the RSPB's Giving Nature a Home campaign, aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK's threatened wildlife.

The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces; whether it's putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond to support a variety of different wildlife or building a home for a hedgehog.

To find out how you can give nature a home where you live visit:- RSPB.Org.UK/Homes.

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Deceased estates notice - Lilian May Jackam

Pursuant to the Trustee Act 1925, any persons having a claim against or an interest in the Estate of Lilian May Jackam (also known as Lillian May) Jackam (Deceased), late of Birch Abbey Rest Home, 55 Alexandra Road, Southport, Merseyside, PR9 9HD, UK, who died on 04/10/2018, are required to send particulars thereof in writing, to the undersigned Solicitors, on or before 24/05/2019, after which date the Estate will be distributed having regard only to claims and interests of which they have had notice. Churches Solicitors, 12 High Street, Fareham, Hampshire, PO16 7BL, UK. Ref:- 'T553015.'

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