Birds of a feather flock to British wildlife reserves

Two birdwatchers focusing their binoculars in preparation for what is expected to be the world's largest gathering of ornithologists this weekend.

World Birdwatch '95, organised by BirdLife International, a global partnership of bird welfare groups, is expected to attract more than 1 million bird- watching and bird conservation enthusiasts from 100 countries. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is staging more than 140 events in nature reserves, estuaries and woodlands across the United Kingdom.

The organisers hope that the events will highlight the serious problems faced by the world's birdlife and the need to protect its environment.

Barbara Young, the RSPB's chief executive, said World Birdwatch would provide an ideal opportunity for newcomers to try birdwatching for the first time. She added: "The events across the country should give everyone the chance to take part somewhere locally.

"Birds are excellent environmental indicators and their health reflects that of the whole natural environment."