The Times reports the cheering chirruping of house sparrows, once common in gardens, has declined drastically over the past four decades. A generation after numbers plummeted, however, there is hope.
At the 41st annual birdwatching weekend held in January an average of 4.7 house sparrows were seen, prompting hopes that they have turned the corner. Almost 1.3 million house sparrows were seen over the weekend. Experts believe the mild winter may have helped smaller birds, which are susceptible to cold conditions.
THE GUARDIAN reports we may be stuck indoors but the skies are a source of ornithological wonder. Experts reveal what’s out there, where to look – and how to get competitive about it.
Some of us have always scrutinised the skies above our homes and gardens but the Covid-19 crisis has turned this activity into something of a movement, sparked by Matteo Toller of Udine in north-east Italy who recently se up #BWKM0 (birdwatching at zero km) on Twitter to help people record their sightings, share knowledge and show solidarity during the country’s lockdown.
Matteo himself recorded 51 species from his windows in 12 hours earlier this month, including brambling, black stork, goshawk and the first house martins migrating north.
ITV news report a man who illegally kept and sold barn owls in his back garden has been forced to surrender the animals.
Lee Wellings had kept the owls in aviaries at his home address in Scholar Walk, Walsall.
Last December officers discovered six of the protected species after executing a search warrant alongside the National Wildlife Crime Unit.
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.
The BBC reports there were 20 goshawk breeding pairs recorded in 2011 in Hampshire, but Forestry England says there are now 40 pairs living in the New Forest alone. The woodland raptors are nicknamed the “Phantoms of the Forest” due to their elusive nature.
If you want to know more about Goshawks you can check out the write up of our FNW talk on goshawks from Dave Burges.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.