Report reveals shocking decline in bird numbers

By a County Press reporter

Monday, December 9, 2013


Report reveals shocking decline in bird numbers

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.


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Displaying the last 10 of 25 comments - Show All Comments

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by neil jacks

13th December 2013, at 19:13:52

there is one bird I wish the cat would get.. I bet you can all guess which particular species that be????????

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by Colin Barton

11th December 2013, at 10:32:49

Lee ,just to put your mind at rest i am not harming cats,my deterrents are two sonic alarm systems,wire along the tops of the fences and a hose pipe. Not appearing at home ! Busy roads, law of averages!

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by Colin Barton

10th December 2013, at 23:08:19

I detest cats,in the main because they are allways ****ting in my garden and I do have a few deterrents,which culls it a bit,I often wonder when these selfish morons buy a cat,do they realise the trouble they cause and the heartache it will cause when the "cat" doesn't appear at home!

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by James McAdder

10th December 2013, at 20:15:54

The bottom line, Mike, is that you have a personal dislike of cats and you let that personal dislike cloud your reason.

The RSPB have researched this and have concluded that domestic cats are not responsible for the decline in the numbers of garden birds.

Cats can, and do, kill a great many garden birds, but this predation is not responsible for their decline. You are confusing cause and effect.

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by Mike Crowe

10th December 2013, at 17:58:48

Please tell the cats who sit waiting for the birds to come down and feed and water. I am afraid that as far as I am aware, the stupid vermin are unable to read so it is a waste of time posting the report in the place they lay in wait.

When I moved into this house nearly 30 years ago we had lots of birds .............. no cats. We now have no birds but 7 cats alone in the very near vicinity .


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by James McAdder

10th December 2013, at 16:51:27

Some quotes from an RSPB article on predation by domestic cats:

"Despite the large numbers of birds killed, there is no scientific evidence that predation by cats in gardens is having any impact on bird populations UK-wide."

"There is evidence that cats tend to take weak or sickly birds."

"It is likely that most of the birds killed by cats would have died anyway from other causes before the next breeding season, so cats are unlikely to have a major impact on populations."

"Those bird species that have undergone the most serious population declines in the UK (such as skylarks, tree sparrows and corn buntings) rarely encounter cats, so cats cannot be causing their declines."

"Populations of species that are most abundant in gardens tend to be increasing, despite the presence of cats. Blue tits, for example, the second most frequently caught birds, have increased by over a quarter across the UK since 1966."

So, not cats,

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by Marie Cheverton

10th December 2013, at 11:28:09

Garden developments cause many of our birds to be displaced. The worst offenders for this type of development are the Council Planners allowing these areas to be build on in the first place and allow the felling of trees and the distruction of these small habitats.

Humans also has this bad habit of tidying up their gardens after the summer.
My garden is left untidy throughout the winter, many years I have watched a Jenny Wren and Sparrows forage in dead plants and weeds where insects are hidden.

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10th December 2013, at 10:34:12

@Mike Crowe, there are more cats because there are more people. Simple logic, more people equals more pets just as more people equals more houses. So as both Lee and Barbara state, it's down to humans.

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by Mike Crowe

9th December 2013, at 22:22:46

and Babara, as I said before, cats.

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by barbara penman

9th December 2013, at 22:17:45

As I said before humans!

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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