From Poland to UK – A Kingfisher’s Record Flight

November 1, 2011 by  
Filed under News

A kingfisher from Poland has reportedly set a new record for the longest migration distance between the Continent and the United Kingdom, by flying a distance of more than 620 miles from its Polish habitat to the Orford Ness National Nature Reserve in Woodbridge, Suffolk. The ringed bird was captured, and later released, by members of the Felixstowe-based Landguard Bird Observatory who were carrying out routine studies on bird ringing at Orford Ness.

The previous record set by a bird of this species was 603 miles, traveling from Marloes, Pembrokeshire to Irun in Spain. The last ringed kingfisher found to have traveled from Europe to the UK, traveled 509 miles from Aken, Germany, in October 2008. While it still needs to be confirmed where exactly the kingfisher was ringed in order to establish the correct distance, Poland is further east than any of the other destinations recorded, making it a record-breaking flight irrespective of where in Poland the bird originated. While kingfishers routinely breed in Poland, a small number are known to migrate to the United Kingdom in autumn, presumably to escape areas that face long periods of freezing conditions.

While acknowledging that bird ringing is not a perfect science, the National Trust warden for Orford Ness, Duncan Kent, pointed out that over a period of time huge amounts of information are collected, providing insight into how long birds live, how far they travel and other valuable data for research purposes. Orford Ness site manager for the National Trust, Grant Lohoar, noted that the capture of the ringed kingfisher highlights the importance of this practice as a tool for conservation, as it allows researchers to identify individual birds.

Research carried out at Orford Ness is considered to be of utmost importance as, with its reed beds, marshes and lagoons, the area serves as a critical stopover site for migrating birds. Landguard Bird Observatory volunteer, Mike Marsh noted that if the kingfisher is indeed confirmed to be from Poland it will be one of the longest migrations for this species recorded in the database for bird ringing. The British Trust for Ornithology will follow up with Polish authorities to determine the point of origin of the record-breaking kingfisher.

Interesting RSPB Survey Results

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under News

The RSPB’s wildlife survey would not be possible if not for the loyal participation of the public, who assist in the Make Your Nature Count project. The survey began on the 4th of June and ran to the 12th of June, involving over fifty thousand gardens. Due to the assistance of the participants, the RSPB Make Your Nature Count project could collect the necessary information to compile a report on a variety of bird species to determine how successful the breeding season was. The feedback was extremely positive.

Once all the data was received, it showed that there was an increase in the breeding of robins, and that there was a ten percent increase in song thrushes in gardens across the United Kingdom. The organizer of the RSPB Make Your Nature Count, Richard Bashford, commented that it was very exciting to see the increase of song thrushes, blackbirds and robins, as it means that weather conditions were ideal during the breeding season. Since 2010, blackbirds had increased by fifteen percent. Bashford said that even though the numbers of the song thrushes had increased, it is important to remember that they did go through a period of decline and are slowly beginning to recover and have a far way to go before their numbers are satisfying, even though there are not any guarantees that the same favorable outcome will appear next year. House sparrows also seemed to increase by approximately twenty percent, but are still to be watched carefully. Thirty percent increases were recorded for chaffinches and blue tits.

The survey was performed in rural areas, urban and suburban areas and it was also the first time the public participants were asked to be on the lookout for grass snakes and bats. Almost one in fifty of the participating members reported grass snakes and they are more likely to be found in rural areas. Thirty-three percent of the participants also reported bats. As an added request they were also asked to take note of toads and frogs, as there had been a decline in their numbers over the last two years. The wildlife in any garden impacts the environment, and through the voluntary services of the public the RSPB is able to conduct their surveys and compile their reports to keep constant records on the various species.

Small Bird Sightings Increase

April 5, 2011 by  
Filed under News

The Big Garden Birdwatch in the UK is an annual event that has taken place for the last thirty-two years and is organized by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. This is a massive undertaking as it involves over six hundred thousand participants, but it is vital to the tracking and recording of small bird numbers. Members of the public volunteer to take note of their gardens or open public areas and record the number of birds and individual species they see within a dedicated hour. This year the count took place on 29 January 2011 and the feedback was astounding.

During a very severe winter experienced in the United Kingdom in 2009, a significant decrease in small bird sightings was noticed. The new information received proved that the numbers were on the rise again. During the campaign, more than ten million birds were counted and recorded by the public, and it showed that the number of small birds in the United Kingdom had doubled, with sightings of goldcrests, blue tits, greenfinches, wrens, pheasants, jays, kestrels, lapwings, robins and even waxwings, which migrate to the United Kingdom from Scandinavia. It was the most successful count of waxwings in over thirty years. The research also showed that house sparrows were the most highly sighted birds in the gardens of the United Kingdom.

Sarah Kelly, the co-ordinator of the Big Garden Birdwarch, commented: “We were really interested to see how the small birds fared after such a disastrous last year.” She went on to say, “It appears that many may have had a decent breeding season and have been able to bounce back a little.”

The real excitement, however, was with the wonderful sightings of the waxwings. Even Mark Eaton, scientist for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, commented on them saying, “We knew this was going to be a bumper year for waxwings as we’d had so many reports from all over the UK. But the Big Garden Birdwatch is the first indicator of exactly how many were seen in gardens, and we’re pleased that so many people got to enjoy sightings of these beautiful birds.”

British Bird Fair 2010

July 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Events

The British Bird Fair is one of the biggest birding and bird watching events on the British calendar, and offers visitors a host of activities and stores to enjoy. It is an event that focuses on birds and wildlife, and visitors can find everything from binoculars, sculptures and nutritional items to take home with them. Eco-holidays will also be available, and over and above lectures and workshops, there will be fun quiz shows, book launches, art work to enjoy and various other entertaining activities.

The British Bird Fair will be held from 20 – 22 August 2010, and those interested in attending, can visit the fair website at http://www.birdfair.org.uk/ for more information.

Date: 20 – 22 August 2010
Venue: Eagleton Nature Reserve
City: Rutland
Country: United Kingdom

Feed the Birds Day 2009

August 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

On the 24th and 25th of October 2009, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds will be trying to offer more than a hundred locations for bird enthusiasts to get together to take part in the Feed the Birds Day 2009 project. Visitors to the event will learn how to take care of the wild birds in their gardens, being educated on food, nests and a variety of other ways the public can assist in the conservation and protection of wild birds, from the comfort of their own back yard.

For more information on your nearest venue location and the Feed the Birds Day 2009 initiative, kindly visit the Royal Society of the Protections of Birds website at http://www.rspb.org.uk/feedthebirds/index.asp or contact them on 01767 680 551 (office hours).

Date: 24 – 25 October 2009
Venue: Various
City: Various
Country: United Kingdom

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