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Cumbrian stores’ free offer to help nature lovers watch the county’s birdies

WCF Pet & Equestrian’s Katie Smith with some of the retailer’s range to help bird lovers

[B]IRD lovers in Cumbria are being offered free kit and food to help them join in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey.

WCF Pet & Equestrian is urging people across the county to get involved in this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch between January 27-29.

Each store is giving away a bird feeder and wild bird food to a worthy group in its area. It’s hoped this might help organisations such as nursing homes, day centres or youth clubs take part.

Since first being held in 1979, the Big Garden Birdwatch has grown into an annual event that has around 500,000 people counting the species that visit their gardens or local green space.

The RSPB says almost 6,000 people took part in Cumbria last year, helping to spy eight million birds. The house sparrow remained top of the county rankings, with blue tit and blackbird rounding off the top three.

Staff at stores in Carlisle, Cockermouth, Kendal, Penrith, Ulverston and Wigton, have been brushing up on their wild bird knowledge ahead of this year’s event and are looking forward to hearing about their customers’ top spotting tips.

Any group which wants to take part but doesn’t have a bird feeder can contact its local store by January 26. One winner from each store will be chosen to receive a Peckish click top feeder and a 6kg bag of WCF Premium wild bird food.

Everyone is invited to share their sightings through #BigGardenBirdwatch and WCF Pet & Equestrian is also hoping people post their most unusual sightings on its Facebook pages by searching for the name of their nearest store.

The stores have 60 different feeders for nyger seed, sunflower hearts and seeds, peanuts, wild bird seed, mealworms, suet blocks and energy balls. Premium wild bird seed is a growing area of consumer interest and WCF Pet & Equestrian has an exotic range of own brand offerings including Insect Feast, Garden Gourmet, Fruity Songster, Four Seasons, Winter Picnic and Island Harvest.

Penrith store manager Chris Wills said: “Wild bird watching is a real growth area and provides an awful lot of enjoyment for people.

“It’s an all-year round experience but it’s particularly popular at this time of year and we’re delighted to help the RSPB promote an event that gets millions of people engaged with the nature in their gardens.

“Our in-store staff will be delighted to offer some advice to people wanting to take part for the first time and guiding them through what they need.”

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: “The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great opportunity to get involved with helping our garden wildlife.

“By counting the birds that visit your outdoor space, you’ll be joining a team of over half-a-million people across the UK who are making a difference for nature. It only takes an hour so grab a cuppa, sit back and see who makes a flying visit to your garden.”

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