Worrying decline in common bird species

Daily Echo: House sparrow numbers are down 38 per cent House sparrow numbers are down 38 per cent

CONSERVATIONISTS are increasingly concerned about declining numbers of birds once common in Hampshire’s skies.

An annual survey has found that once-familiar species such as starling and house martins are suffering plummeting populations compared to the 1990s.

The cuckoo has almost vanished in many parts of our region, according to the latest State of the UK’s Birds report.

Of the 107 most widespread and common breeding birds, 16 have declined by more than one third since 1995.

In the south-east a number of species have seen huge falls in population, including:

  • l House sparrows down 38 per cent.
  • l Starlings down 62 per cent.
  • l House martins down 49 per cent.
  • l Swifts down 49 per cent.

In more rural areas turtle dove numbers have dropped by 86 per cent and cuckoos by 59 per cent.
Many of these species are reliant on habitats in the so-called wider countryside rather than being maintained on special sites, such as nature reserves.

This alarming decline has been brought into sharp focus with the launch of the Bird Atlas 2007-11, published by the British Trust for Ornithology.

This mammoth mapping project covered all of the breeding and
wintering birds and revealed how many countryside birds are disappearing.

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RSPB conservation scientist Dr Mark Eaton 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. To the contrary, they are ones you used to see while walking the dog or enjoying a family picnic.

“But over two decades many of these species have ebbed away from huge swathes of our countryside.”

However, while some species are declining, others are on the up in the south-east.
Red kite numbers have soared by more than 1,000 per cent and the great spotted woodpecker population has more than doubled.

But Phil Grice, a senior environmental specialist in ornithology at Natural England, said: “While we have made great progress with reversing the declines in many of our rarer bird species, thanks to site management and species recovery work, improving the fortunes of our ‘wider countryside’ birds requires us to think beyond good management of our special sites, like SSSIs.

“Through environmental stewardship and initiatives like Nature Improvement Areas, we are working in close partnership with farmers and other land managers to make a difference for biodiversity across whole landscapes, allowing people to experience England’s characteristic wildlife close to where they live.”

Comments (6)

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1:06pm Wed 11 Dec 13

eurogordi says...

Worrying decline? Not in my garden! I've seen a massive increase over the last couple of years, with birds feeding, nesting and breeding.
Worrying decline? Not in my garden! I've seen a massive increase over the last couple of years, with birds feeding, nesting and breeding. eurogordi

2:21pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Brite Spark says...

That's where they've gone then!
That's where they've gone then! Brite Spark

2:24pm Wed 11 Dec 13

southy says...

I been watching a Firecrest that,s been coming into the Garden, normally your would not see these birds down so low, they are normally in the top of trees
I been watching a Firecrest that,s been coming into the Garden, normally your would not see these birds down so low, they are normally in the top of trees southy

4:36pm Wed 11 Dec 13

geoff51 says...

Its all those idiots on cycles in the New Forest disturbing the nesting sites with 1000 riders each time.
Its all those idiots on cycles in the New Forest disturbing the nesting sites with 1000 riders each time. geoff51

5:00pm Wed 11 Dec 13

derek james says...

he may have partly answered his own question, soaring numbers of birds of pray, large numbers of cats as well. as for swifts they fly here from overseas maybe they are being trapped in those countries
he may have partly answered his own question, soaring numbers of birds of pray, large numbers of cats as well. as for swifts they fly here from overseas maybe they are being trapped in those countries derek james

5:24pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Linesman says...

derek james wrote:
he may have partly answered his own question, soaring numbers of birds of pray, large numbers of cats as well. as for swifts they fly here from overseas maybe they are being trapped in those countries
The birds that pray are not the problem, it's the birds of prey that do the damage.
[quote][p][bold]derek james[/bold] wrote: he may have partly answered his own question, soaring numbers of birds of pray, large numbers of cats as well. as for swifts they fly here from overseas maybe they are being trapped in those countries[/p][/quote]The birds that pray are not the problem, it's the birds of prey that do the damage. Linesman

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