The yellow wagtail is among the birds to have suffered a decline, according to the RSPB. Picture courtesy of Andy Hay, RSPB images.
SHOCKING declines in some of the south east’s best-loved countryside birds have been revealed in the latest RSPB State of the UK's Birds Report, published today (Monday).
According to the charity, about 20 per cent of the 107 birds looked at in the report, have suffered a decline of more than one third in the south east.
They include the turtle dove, willow tit, starling, cuckoo, lapwing, sparrow and wood warbler.
RSPB South East Regional Director Chris Corrigan said: "The declines highlighted in this report are truly shocking. Never in all my years working in conservation has there been a moment like this."
The report has been published just ten days before environment secretary Owen Paterson is due to announce extra funding for wildlife friendly farming.
The RSPB has urged the public to get behind efforts to highlight the concern about British wildlife by taking part in an online poll on its website. The results will be handed to the government on December 19.
Mr Corrigan said: "Owen Paterson holds the future of the countryside in his hands. We need him to use our tax money to support our wildlife and landscapes.
"A show of public support now will do more for our vanishing birds and other threatened wildlife than all the staff and volunteers the RSPB can muster could achieve with a decade of effort. These declines reflect changes in our landscape which funding can address. It’s crucial people get behind this poll."
State of UK Bird Report key findings:
•Willow tit, a woodland bird which has declined nationally by 82 per cent since 1995, and is too rare to produce a trend in the South East; it’s now the fastest declining resident bird in the UK.
•Turtle doves have fallen 84% in the SE with a 34 per cent national decline in their range over the last two decades
•Cuckoo, the numbers have halved since 1995
•Whinchat, a bird of open countryside, which is no longer found as a breeding bird in the SE, has declined nationally in number by 60 per cent since 1995.
•Starling, a bird of urban gardens and farms, are down in the SE by 58%
•Wood warbler, a summer-visiting woodland bird, which has endured a 69 per cent national decline since 1995 and is now rare and localised in the SE.
•Yellow wagtail, numbers are too low in the SE to show a trend but nationally this farmland and wetland bird has endured a 45 per cent decline since 1995.
•Lapwing should be one of the SE's more common farmland and wetland birds. Numbers are already low in the SE and their populations dropped another 39% here since 1995; nationally it’s worse with a 41% decline
•Grey partridge numbers are down 68% in the SE, nationally it’s 53%, since 1995
•Corn bunting, there are 62% fewer in the SE compared with 1995, nationally they’ve dropped 34% in the same period.