THE humble house sparrow has topped the ratings in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch for most sightings in Dorset.

Some 7,878 people across the county joined almost half a million across the UK to take part in the survey at the end of January.

The house sparrow has topped the list in Dorset this year alongside smaller birds such as long-tailed tits, wrens, and coal tits.

Starlings were the second-most-spotted and blue tits were the third.

RSPB conservation scientist Daniel Hayhow said: “Small birds suffer during long, cold winters but the warmer January weather this year appeared to give species such as the wren and long-tailed tit a boost.

“Over the survey’s lifetime, we’ve seen the increasing good fortunes of birds such as the coal tit and goldfinch and the alarming declines of the house sparrow and starling.

“But there appears to be good news for one of these birds.”

The Big Garden Birdwatch, which is in its 41st year, is an important event for the RSPB as it gives the charity an insight into what is going on in the bird world.

It was through this annual event that the RSPB became aware of a decline of the song thrush across the country.

But, it is also a way for people to spend time connecting with nature from the comfort of their homes.

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. These are difficult and unsettling times for all of us, but we hope that nature can provide a welcome respite in whichever form and wherever you may encounter it.

“Despite everything that’s going on in the world, nature is still doing its thing. Birds are singing and blossom is bursting.

“Watching wildlife, whether from a window or a balcony or even online, can offer many of us hope, joy and a welcome distraction, and so we are keen to help you carry on connecting with the natural world.”

The RSPB will be advising people how to get close to nature during the cornavirus outbreak.