Birds that were once a common sight in Britain take flight, never to return
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Monday 09 December 2013
The sharp decline in some of Britain’s most common bird species is resulting for the first time in their disappearance from some parts of the United Kingdom, conservationists warn today.
An annual stocktake of bird populations by a coalition of nature groups shows that many of the country’s 107 most familiar species, such as the starling and grey partridge, are suffering “plummeting” population changes compared with the 1990s.
But as well as losing numbers across the board, The State of the UK’s Birds warns that species are vanishing from sections of the country where they once thrived as their geographical range shrinks with their population.
The unique British race of the yellow wagtail, which has a brighter yellow head compared to its European cousins, has declined by 45 per cent since 1995 but its range has also reduced by nearly a third and the species has vanished from large areas of England as well as the entirety of Wales.
The corn bunting, a dumpy farmland bird once abundant across the countryside, is now extinct in Ireland and the cuckoo has disappeared from large parts of South-east England and the Midlands.
Dr Mark Eaton, a conservation scientist with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: “I think many of us have been shocked by how poorly some of our most familiar species are faring. Many of the birds we’re referring to aren’t rare and don’t occur in remote locations.
“On the contrary, they are the ones you used to see while walking the dog or enjoying a family picnic. But over two decades many of these species have ebbed way from huge swathes of our countryside.”
The study found that 16 of the most common breeding birds have declined by more than a third since 1995, including starling, willow tit, cuckoo, lapwing and whinchat.
Many of these species are reliant on habitat in the wider countryside rather than special sites such as nature reserves. Of particular concern are the grey partridge and the turtle dove, numbers of which have halved in the last 18 years.
The shrinking geographical spread of species is catalogued in an atlas produced by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) charting changes to bird distributions between 2007 and 2011 based on data gathered from tens of thousands of ornithologists.
Other species which have reduced their range are the snipe and the lapwing, which is disappearing from western Britain and Northern Ireland.
Scientists have also spotted the early signs of a trend for species struggling in parts of England, such as the cuckoo, to start doing better in Scotland, perhaps as wetter, warmer winters improve breeding conditions.
The groups also underlined the improving fortunes of species the red kite, now thriving in parts of England.
Dolphins ‘deliberately get high’ on puffer fish nerve toxins by carefully chewing and passing them around
Brazilian wandering spider: Where are they from and how deadly are they?
Government ‘allowing coal industry to get green subsidies’
Saharan sun could provide energy for UK homes in £8bn plan to build 100 sq km solar farm - and a very long power cable
The 10 best folding bikes
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...