Bird Breeding Season: The Good News And The Bad News

The RSPB has been particularly excited, and also perplexed, at the highs and lows in bird populations this breeding season. On the one hand, it appears that many of their conservation efforts have paid off with the organization enjoying one of the best bird breeding seasons on record. However, at the same time a number of more common bird species are clearly struggling to deal with climatic changes and their numbers are dwindling.

Some bird species but, despite that, this was one of the best breeding seasons on record.” He then went on to discuss some of the bird numbers recorded during the season at the Minsmere nature reserve. It seems it was a good season for Terns, but other birds such as the Turtle Dove and Spotted Flycatcher were noticably absent and worrying. In the end there were a record 102 bird species breeding at the Minsmere nature reserve during the course of the season. Unfortunately several Bittern nests failed due to flooding and the Avocets were not terribly successful breeders.

The arrival of a pair of Arctic Terns at Minsmere for the first time was probably the first sign that it would be a good season for Terns in general. Not long after they arrived, a pair of Sandwich Terns, which have been absent in the area for several years, joined the existing Tern colony which numbered around 86 pairs by the end of the season. Not too far away, 41 pairs of young Terns took it upon themselves to raise about 33 youngsters. The Havergate Island Reserve was home to a further 43 pairs of common Terns for the breeding season. Another bird species which arrived in large numbers at the two RSPB nature areas was the Black-headed Gull. A record 758 pairs of these birds were to be found at the Minsmere ‘scrape’ during peak season. Unfortunately the Mediterranean Gulls that had formerly seen an increase, dropped to just two pairs. There were 19 pairs of Common Gulls and three great Black-backed Gull pairs, while the lesser Black-backed Gulls increased to a whopping 1,185 pairs and the Herring Gulls increased to 501 pairs. The increase to three pairs of Stone-Curlews at Minsmere was also noteworthy.

The Avocets nesting at Minsmere increased very slightly in numbers and suffered a bit of tragedy with heavy spring rainfall causing only four chicks to fledge successfully of all those hatched from the 130 pairs nesting at the sight. Birds that researchers are concerned about include Oystercatchers, Black-tailed Godwit, Bitterns, Dartford Warblers, Yellowhammers, Spotted Flycatchers and Turtle Doves. The Nightjar and Woodlark populations managed to remain stable this year.