Tag Archives: birds

Farmland birds see decline of 55 per cent in the last 50 years, Defra reveals due to lack of hedgerows and use of pesticides

The Telegraph reports farmland birds have seen a decline of 55 per cent in the last 50 years, Defra has revealed, as a lack of hedgerows and overuse of pesticides are given the blame.

For some birds, farming has been particularly devastating; corn buntings, grey partridges and tree sparrows, all of which are highly dependent on farmland, have experienced declines of more than 90 per cent since 1970.

Turtle doves have seen their numbers halve in the five year period of 2012 to 2017, with long term declines of 98 per cent.

Defra has been monitoring 19 species of farmland birds, and has found that over the shorter term the fall has been less drastic – bird numbers overall fell by 6 per cent between 2012-17.

British holidaymakers warned off ‘macabre’ turtle dove shooting trips

The Telegraph reports British holidaymakers have been warned off going on shooting holidays to kill rare turtle doves, which migrate from the UK across Europe. At least least two British companies offer shooting holidays to Morocco, allowing interested parties to slaughter the endangered birds for fun in the country where it is legal to do so.

Shooters have been condemned as these are migratory birds who fly from the UK to Morocco – so those who kill the turtle doves are destroying the very birds the government is trying to protect. Turtle doves have suffered a 94 per cent UK population decline since 1995 and a 78 per cent decline across Europe since 1980. The RSPB has warned that the species could soon “be lost forever”. 

Climate change ‘has affected a third of UK bird species’

The BBC reports climate change has affected the numbers of about a third of the bird species seen in UK hedgerows and gardens, according to a new study. Research by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has shown an increase in some garden birds like goldcrests as they profit from warmer temperatures. 

But it said increased UK temperatures had had an impact on the decline of birds such as cuckoos and turtle doves. Both species have seen population drops of more than 80% in the past 30 years.

New trial gives hope to Britain’s endangered curlews

Discover Wildlife reports, recently dubbed the ‘panda of UK conservation’ by ministers, the curlew is classed as a priority species in the UK, where it faces an uncertain future. Here, their population has seen an overall decline of 42 per cent between 1995 and 2008.

Understanding the fragile state of Britain’s curlew population, experts at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) decided to intervene, taking a hands-on approach.

The charity rescued over 50 curlew eggs from nests on military airbases in Norfolk, where they would have been destroyed under licence to protect air safety. The chicks were raised at Slimbridge Wetlands Centre, before being released onto reserves in Gloucestershire when they were old enough to fly.

 

RSPB concern as illegal bird killings quadruple in a year

The BBC reports laws to protect birds are being “routinely flouted”, the RSPB has said, after figures showed a massive rise in the number illegally killed.

There were four times as many bird killings in Wales last year compared to in 2017, the organisation said. Investigations officer, Jenny Shelton, said birds were usually killed because they posed a threat to game stocks.

Guildford’s 10 metre tower to help swifts nest

Surrey Live reports that Surrey borough council is looking to use a 10 metre tower to tackle declining numbers of swifts in Shalford.

Guildford Borough Council wants to put the tower near a car park and recreation ground on the junction of Kings Road and Chinthurst Lane in Shalford.

The nesting tower will allow up to 56 pairs of birds to breed and has been designed to look like a piece of artwork.

The number of swifts have declined by 53%, according to the RSPB.

White stork pair could become first to breed in wild in UK for centuries

The Guardian reports white storks nesting on top of an ancient oak tree could become the first wild pair to successfully breed in Britain for hundreds of years. The enormous birds are brooding three eggs on the rewilded Knepp estate, in Sussex, as part of a project to reintroduce the species to south-east England. 

Photo of white storks by Corine Bliek under creative commons.

Garden feeders are supporting rising numbers of urban birds

The Guardian reports the increasingly appetising buffet provided for garden birds, from sunflower hearts to suet cakes, is supporting a rising number and greater diversity of species in Britain’s urban areas, according to research.

In the 1970s, half of all birds using garden feeders belonged to just two species, the sparrow and starling, but by the 2010s the number of species making up the same proportion had tripled, with goldfinches, woodpigeons and long-tailed tits soaring in number because of the food on offer.

At least half of British homeowners feed garden birds and researchers writing in Nature Communications found they support 133 bird species – more than half of the country’s species – and are reshaping urban bird populations.