Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Corn bunting - numbers have plummeted

THE alarming decline in farmland birds shows no signs of abating, according to the BTO.
In a report published this week, it estimates numbers are now down by 45 per cent since 1970.
“Most of the decline occurred between the late 1970s and early 1990s,”it says. “This was largely due to rapid changes in farmland management. “
Worst affected are the corn bunting and the grey partridge which are both down by more than 90 per cent over the past 43 years.
Also in big trouble is the turtle dove and, to some extent, the greenfinch, a “generalist” species which has been badly hit by the disease, Trichomonosis.
The overall downward trend is bucked by the goldfinch which continues to increase.
Woodland birds are also suffering - 28 per cent down since 1970. - with grazing by increased numbers of deer thought to be a factor.
Summer visitors such as warblers have also been hit by increasingly unfavourable conditions on their migration to and from wintering grounds.

Willow tits - numbers are in freefall
 Among species particularly hard hit have been long-distance migrants such as wood warbler, spotted flycatcher and tree pipit, but residents such as lesser spotted woodpecker and willow tit have also become alarmingly scarce.
On the plus side, great spotted woodpecker, blackcap and long-tailed tit have shown marked increases
The BTO’s water and wetland indicators reveal increased numbers of species such as tufted duck and coots, which favour still or slow-moving water, but declines of species such a redshanks and lapwings which favour wet grassland or marshes.
Of coastal birds, the report states: “The indicator of 14 wholly marine species, was broadly stable between 1986 and the early 2000s but has declined since then and is now 24 per cent lower than the baseline in 1986.
“Although species such as guillemot continue to increase, there have been marked declines in species such as Arctic skua and kittiwake, in the case of the latter attributable to changes in sea temperature as a result of climate change.”

Photo credits:
Corn bunting: Sandra/snowmanradio via Wikipedia Commons
Willow tit:  Francis Franklin via Wikipedia Commons

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