The Daily Telegraph reports the willow tit is the fastest-declining resident bird in the country, and one of the lowest in number, and the numbers have been in sharp freefall because their preferred habitat, shrubland, has been destroyed because of an obsession with neatness…. Government quango Natural England is also planning to compel local authorities to create more ‘untidy’ habitats for creatures including the Willow tit.
Willow tit photo by yrjö jyske under creative commons.
INEWS and BBC NEWS report a pioneering form of research has given a fresh insight into the secret night lives of the UK’s smallest seabird. The RSPB used GPS tags to collect data on the movement of storm petrels. They found the birds, which are active at night, regularly travelled up to 300 kilometres to feed in the stormy waters off Shetland.
Photo of European storm petrels by Peter Steward under creative commons.
The Times reports thousands of birds could be saved from being killed by wind farms by painting one blade on each turbine black, a study suggests. Eagles and other soaring birds of prey are particularly vulnerable to wind farms and they benefit most from making the blades more visible.
Photo of wind turbines by steve p2008 under creative commons.
The Independent reports tangers see four nests of chicks successfully fledge. At least a dozen marsh harrier chicks have successfully fledged at a nature reserve in the “most successful breeding year in decades” for the species there. It is thought that lockdown helped the birds at the National Trust’s Wicken Fen Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire.
The BBC reports golden eagles have bred at a “rewilding” estate in the Scottish Highlands for the first time in 40 years. An eagle pair successfully reared the chick at an artificial eyrie on the 10,000-acre Dundreggan estate.
The Guardian reports scheme in West Sussex leads to first chicks of the species hatching in the wild since the 15th century. The sound was both primeval yet utterly fresh and new: a time-travelling throwback to the middle ages; yet, at the same time, a portent of a brighter future for our rural landscape…But this wasn’t in France, Spain or Poland, where I have watched them in the past, but in West Sussex: at the Knepp Wildland Project.
The Guardian reports data comes from rings on birds, with more than a million fitted during 2019. The records, collected by the British Trust for Ornithology, provide insights into the remarkable migrations of birds but also the human and climatic pressures they face – and their longevity.
BBC News reports the reintroduction of red kites to an area of outstanding natural beauty 30 years ago has been a “true conservation success story”, an expert has said. Numbers of kites had declined over a 200-year period and by the 1980s they were one of only three globally-threatened species in the UK.
Thirteen young birds were brought over from Spain and released in the Chiltern Hills in July 1990.They are now “thriving”, with an estimated 1,800 UK breeding pairs.
Photo by Noel Reynolds under creative commons.
Sky News reports the first wild white stork chicks have hatched in the UK for what is believed to be hundreds of years. The White Stork Project has been closely monitoring three nests at the Knepp estate in West Sussex. After a 33-day wait, six eggs hatched in two of the nests. It is believed the parents of the first hatchlings are the same pair that attempted to nest at Knepp last year, when their eggs failed to hatch. The parents have been seen incubating and regurgitating food for their offspring. White Stork Project officer Lucy Groves said it was a “nervous wait” after last year’s failed attempt. The last storks that were recorded breeding successfully in the wild nested on St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1416. The White Stork Project at Knepp aims to restore a population of at least 50 breeding pairs across the south of England by 2030.
BBC News reports birds living on river banks are ingesting plastic at the rate of hundreds of tiny fragments a day, according to a new study. Scientists say this is the first clear evidence that plastic pollutants in rivers are finding their way into wildlife and moving up the food chain. Pieces of plastic 5mm or smaller (microplastics), including polyester, polypropylene and nylon, are known to pollute rivers. Researchers at Cardiff University looked at plastic pollutants found in a bird known as a dipper, which wades or dives into rivers in search of underwater insects.