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Nature: Song thrush is top of the charts

The song thrush (below) is Britain's favourite singing bird and the robin the most beautiful, according to a MORI poll for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and BBC Education, published yesterday. On the question of who has the best song, the blackbird came second to the song thrush, with the nightingale, skylark and robin joint third. As for which was the most attractive, the robin took first place followed by the kingfisher and the golden eagle. Runners-up included the blue tit, kestrel, barn owl (rarely seen these days after a steep decline in recent years), mute swan, magpie, blackbird and chaffinch.

One of Britain's most famous "twitchers", Bill Oddie, who presents a new BBC TV guide to bird-watching, said yesterday: "Everyone has a favourite bird, even if it's a turkey.

"Mine is the swallow and its arrival every spring is both a delight and a wonder to me. Birdwatching is now one of Britain's favourite outdoor pursuits because it is something everyone can enjoy everywhere."