A COLD, wet spring has been blamed for falling numbers of small garden birds in Oxfordshire this year.

An RSPB survey, compiled with the help of more than 1,000 county residents, showed juvenile members of the thrush family have declined by more than a quarter compared with 2011.

The Make Your Nature Count results also showed sightings of housemartins were down by nearly 25 per cent and swifts were also down by about 10 per cent.

RSPB communications officer Andy Waters said: “They are very interesting results.

“With thrushes, robins and blackbirds, which are all part of the thrush family, they often get off to a very quick start, looking to nest as early as possible and searching for food for their chicks.

“Because of this they seem to have suffered with a cold and wet spring.

“When they have to look for food farther away their chicks get cold and starve.

“Swifts in particularly have also been impacted by the cold and wet weather as they feed on insects in the air.”

Some 1,076 county residents took part in the survey in the first week of June, logging the birds and other wildlife.

Mr Waters said: “Fortunately most of these birds can bounce back. If they have a bad year we often find they generally do better the following year because there are fewer of them.”

Mr Waters continued: “It’s very difficult to link changing weather with bird numbers but there’s no doubt we are seeing a changing of nesting dates because of the changing climate.”

Other common animals spotted were grey squirrels, hedgehogs, muntjac deer, moles, badgers, roe deer and slow worms.

Mr Waters said: “It’s fantastic more than 1,000 people took part and that shows the superb support we have locally.”

For more on the results visit rspb.org.uk/naturecount

Ten most common species

Species -  Average per garden  - % gardens seen in
House sparrow - 4.1 - 73
Starling - 2.9 - 55
Blackbird - 2.6 - 94
Wood pigeon - 2.5 - 87
Blue tit - 2.2 - 77
Goldfinch - 1.9 - 55
Collared dove - 1.6 - 66
Chaffinch - 1.5 - 61
Jackdaw - 1.5 - 43
Great tit - 1.4  60