1. ITV Report

The Big Garden Birdwatch results are in

Blue tits are the third most spotted bird in Cumbria Photo: PA

It's an annual event which looks to monitor the changing fortunes of UK birds, and this year almost 500,000 people got involved.

The RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch calls on armature 'twitchers' to help them work out the national bird population.

This year, thousands came out to help nation wide with the people of Cumbria doing their bit too. And, they discovered some rather interesting changes.

“2014 was always going to be an interesting Big Garden Birdwatch as the winter has been so mild and we wondered if it would have a significant impact on garden birds."

– Richard Bashford, Big Garden Birdwatch organiser

In a Top of the Pops like manner there was a lot of moving and shaking in the top 10 most spotted birds in the county.

Blue tits knocked blackbirds off the number three spot,starlings dropped two places to number seven and goldfinches climbed an impressive twenty-two places to take the number six spot.

Goldfinches are now the sixth most spotted bird in the region's gardens Credit: PA

But, what is behind these changes?

Scientists believe that the increase in people providing food, like nyjer seed and sunflower hearts in gardens, may have contributed to the steady rise in certain bird numbers.

Some species, like blue tits, were likely to be more reliant on food provided in gardens. Others, like blackbirds, can easily find their favoured foods like worms and insects in the countryside.

"Many garden birds rely on us humans for help. During winter, birds need extra food and water, as well as sustenance, a safe place to shelter and make their home can really give them a boost.

“Two of the species that moved up the rankings this year, blue tits and goldfinches, are adaptable, friendly garden birds and great examples of birds that can flourish with our help. If we put up a nestbox, leave out some food or let our gardens grow a bit wild, they’ll be among the first to take advantage.”

– Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director

Scientists also think the weather has played a role in the ups and downs in this year’s top ten.

Many of the birds were recorded in lower numbers in gardens due to the mild conditions.

Overall numbers of species such as blackbirds, fieldfares and redwings may appear to have dropped in number since last year.

But, in many cases, this is not because of declining populations. Instead, these species don’t need to come into our gardens during mild winters because there is plenty of natural food available in the wider countryside.

Blackbirds can find their main source of food in fields and the countryside Credit: PA

There is, however, some cause for concern as there is still continuing declines of some species.

Numbers of starlings have dropped by 50% and song thrushes by 94% in Cumbria. Both species are on the UK ‘red list’ meaning they are of the highest conservation concern.

There is slightly better news for the house sparrow, as its decline appears to have slowed, and it remains the most commonly seen bird in our gardens.

The decline in house sparrow numbers appear to have slowed Credit: PA

In Cumbria, the house sparrow held onto the top spot, with an average of nearly five recorded per garden – an eight per cent increase on last year.

However, the bird remains on the red list as we have still lost 62% nationally since 1979.

“The good news is that we may have more birds in our gardens in the coming breeding season because more survived the mild winter. It is a great time to give nature a home by putting up a nesting box and supplementary feeding.”

– Richard Bashford, Big Garden Birdwatch organiser

But it wasn't just birds that participants were asked to look out for. The 5,000 Cumbrians who took part were also asked to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens.

Participants have also been asked to look out for other animals like hedgehogs Credit: PA

The RSPB asked whether people ever see deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, frogs and toads in their gardens, to help build an overall picture of how important our gardens are for giving all types of wildlife a home.

Those results will be revealed next month.

To find out more about the Big Garden Birdwatch and how you can give nature a home you can visit the RSPB website.