Britain’s migrating birds are declining in number

 Over half of the UK’s summer migrant birds, such as the nightingale, show long-term population decline. Photograph: Alamy

Over half of the UK’s summer migrant birds, such as the nightingale, show long-term population decline. Photograph: Alamy

Birds that make the great journey between northern Europe and Africa are declining in number, conservationists warn.

Nearly half of the 29 species of so-called summer migrants, who appear in the UK in spring to breed before returning in the autumn, show long-term population declines.

The nightingale, famed for its song and for inspiring English poets, is one of a group of birds that overwinter in Sierra Leone, Senegal, the Gambia and Burkina Faso in West Africa that are suffering particularly badly. Of this group of 11 species that spend winter in Africa’s ‘humid zone’, eight are declining in number. Continue reading

Rumours RSPB accidently killing birds ‘outrageous’

Test show 12 red kites died after eating an illegal poison

Test show 12 red kites died after eating an illegal poison

RSPB Scotland has said “outrageous rumours” have been spread accusing it of accidently causing the deaths of 16 red kites and six buzzards.

The charity said the anonymously-made claims blamed it for killing the birds by leaving contaminated meat at its Tollie visitor centre in the Highlands.

Police said tests had shown 15 of the birds – 12 red kites and three buzzards – had eaten an illegal poison.

On Thursday, Police Scotland made a fresh appeal for help in its probe. Continue reading

The chough: RSPB survey into one of Scotland’s rarest birds

The red-billed chough has suffered a decline in numbers in recent years in its Islay stronghold

The red-billed chough has suffered a decline in numbers in recent years in its Islay stronghold

One of Scotland’s rarest birds, the chough, is to be the subject of a national survey to see how its population is faring.

The study aims to assess current numbers of the red-billed birds – believed to be around 60 pairs – after years of decline.

In Scotland, choughs are only found in a small area of the south-west, with 90 per cent concentrated on Islay.

Naturalists believe 14 pairs were lost between 2002 and 2012.

A team of surveyors has now begun work to chart the fortunes of the “acrobatic” birds, known for their flamboyant flying style. Continue reading

Mild winter ‘may have helped more birds survive’

 Goldfinches, blue tits and sparrows have fared well, according to the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, but other species were missing from gardens in the last weekend of Janurary

Goldfinches, blue tits and sparrows have fared well, according to the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, but other species were missing from gardens in the last weekend of Janurary

Nearly 30,000 Westcountry bird-lovers have taken part in one of the biggest ornithological surveys ever undertaken across the UK – and the results show that there is still concern that many of the nation’s bird species are in decline.

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – the largest survey of its kind in the world – involved people counting the different birds in their gardens over a one-hour period during the last weekend of January. Continue reading

U.K. Seabirds Sound Climate Warning

Photo by Iriskh (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Photo by Iriskh (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Several familiar British birds are now showing drastic declines in numbers as the reality of climate change strikes home even at these temperate latitudes.

Scientists believe climate change is the driving force behind a crash in the numbers of kittiwakes, a seabird species which used to thrive in northern Scotland. The birds are doing so badly that there are fears some colonies could disappear entirely. Continue reading

New tracking technology reveals birds’ epic and amazing journeys

Tagging a red-necked phalarope in the Shetland Islands. Photograph: Adam Rowland/RSPB

Tagging a red-necked phalarope in the Shetland Islands. Photograph: Adam Rowland/RSPB

Today sees the launch of the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science – and one of the most exciting areas of research the centre will be involved in is tracking birds and other animals as they migrate, forage and breed.

Last June, at the edge of a small loch on the island of Fetlar in Shetland, RSPB conservationists and members of the local bird-ringing group caught a red-necked phalarope, a dainty, sparrow-sized wading bird. Continue reading