Interesting RSPB Survey Results

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Birding Tips

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.

Saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper

June 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Features

The most tragic and shocking fact is that if nothing is done to increase the numbers of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, this bird could be extinct within the next decade. It is the harsh reality of loss of habitat, migration patterns and the fact that people set out traps to catch bigger birds and accidently trap these extremely endangered birds. With the last survey done along the Russian Arctic coast in 2009, it was estimated that there were between a hundred and twenty to two hundred breeding pairs remaining. But with them being so difficult to spot, it is feared that the number could be as low as sixty, which is alarming.

In 1758, Carl Linnaeus described the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, with its most distinctive feature being its bill that is spoon shaped. It is a very shy wading bird that is located in the Chukotka Region of Russia, but during winter they migrate to countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, taking on eight thousand kilometer journeys to find the warmth of summer. They have also been seen in China, Japan, Thailand and North Korea.

Fully grown, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is a mere fourteen to sixteen centimeters, with a reddish brown head, and featuring dark brown streaks over its breast and neck. Conservationists estimate that the Spoon-billed Sandpiper population declines by approximately a quarter every year, and therefore a dedicated team has joined forces to establish a project that will assist in increasing the population. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, along with Birds Russia, will be leading the team and working closely with a variety of organizations, such as the Moscow Zoo and RSPB, to make the project work. They are hoping to either capture a few breeding pairs of Spoon-billed Sandpipers to breed in captivity, and then release back into the wild, or find eggs which will be incubated at the Moscow Zoo, after which the chicks will be transported to Gloucestershire to be raised until they are old enough for release.

The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is organizing fundraising events for the project, as well as creating public awareness regarding the plight of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. While raising awareness, hunters will be given compensation if they are prepared to take down their nets, as well as given compensation for every live Spoon-billed Sandpiper they release. It will be the first time that conservationists will attempt to breed these birds in captivity, and if they are successful, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper might stand a fighting chance of avoiding extinction.

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.”

Farmers Could Save Endangered Ibis

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

The elegant white-shouldered Ibis is a critically endangered wading bird that is found in the southern regions of Laos, Vietnam, the eastern region of Kalimantan and in the northern areas of Cambodia. Its natural habitat includes wet grasslands, sand and gravel bars at the water’s edge, marshes and forests that do not consist of dense vegetation. The coloring is quite distinctive with dark plumage covering the bird’s body, red legs and a bald black head. Its name is derived from a unique feature which can be found on the inner forewing of the white-shouldered Ibis, a light, almost white, colored patch of plumage.

This beautiful bird has found its way onto the critically endangered list, the IUCN Red List, of bird species and it is estimated that there are fewer than 250 birds remaining in the world. Recent studies have revealed that there could be ways to save this wonderful bird, as they began to investigate the reasons behind the speedy decline in the species. The University of East Anglia has recently published their results.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds funded the project and studies were concentrated in Cambodia, as the biggest collection of the white-shouldered Ibis is found here. Watching and studying the approximately 160 to 200 birds, has revealed that they prefer open areas, with open sand areas and ground level vegetation, as it makes access to prey easier, makes it easier for the birds to see oncoming danger and assists them in landing and take off as there are less obstacles. What has made the study even more fascinating is the fact that human interaction almost always plays a negative role in the survival of animal and bird species, but in the case of the white-shouldered Ibis, human activity is playing a vital role in the protection of the remaining birds. Open fields where livestock graze and areas that are burnt down by farmers to create more open fields, in turn accommodate these birds and opens more habitats to them. As the white-shouldered Ibis seems to be dependant on the farmers for their existence, it is hoped that this relationship between farmer and Ibis can assist in the survival of the species and hopefully increase white-shouldered Ibis numbers.

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

The Albatross Task Force Project

February 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

South Africans are fast gaining recognition for taking initiative and trying new things. Most recently they have enjoyed a lot of success in efforts aimed at minimizing the number of endangered albatrosses killed in fishing nets annually. Conservationists are now looking at how the project can be expanded.

Albatrosses do not generally receive a lot of public attention, but they are certainly no less important than other birds. This large sea bird is currently facing a huge dilemma – as many as three quarters of albatross species are at the brink of extinction. The main cause for their demise is the fact that they are easily entangled in long fishing lines which are dropped into the water to catch fish such as tuna. The bird then swoops down on the baited lines to which it is attracted, quickly becomes entangled in the lines and it is then eventually pulled underwater where it drowns. It would seem to be such a simple problem to solve, but up until now conservationists have not have much success in helping to stem the number of fishing industry-related deaths.

Fortunately a South African initiative called the Albatross Task Force (ATF) project has now found a way to make the lines safer and so reduce the probability of the birds being drawn to them and becoming entangled. The project’s main preservation technique involves attaching brightly colored streamers to the back of the vessels. These streamers, known as tori lines, flap in the wind and scare the birds away, so helping them to avoid becoming entangled. The initiative also looks at educating fishermen so as to help them avoid catching albatrosses. They share specialist knowledge with the fishermen and also encourage them to fish at night when activity is low. Finding more effective ways to keep the lines down under the water is also encouraged. While changing entrenched attitudes takes time, new laws stipulating that no more than 25 birds may be caught during fishing trips is a very powerful motivator.

So far the Albatross Task Force project has been incredibly successful in helping these endangered birds to avoid premature deaths. The project was launched in 2006 and in 2008 the number of birds killed by fisheries in South Africa dropped by an incredible 85%. Expanding the project to encompass other countries is simply the next logical step, and the UK Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is very supportive of the move. Hopefully this creative and forward-thinking initiative will save yet another bird species from extinction.

Slender-billed Curlews Extinct?

December 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Sometimes the daily habits of a certain bird species may be so obscure that ornithologists are not even sure how many of them exist. That certainly seems to be the case with the Slender-billed Curlew as it seems there is some doubt as to whether or not this bird is still surviving or has become completely extinct.

Read more

Ornithologist Pair Break Record

November 4, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

For many bird lovers it seems like the sort of thing dreams are made of – giving up everything to enjoy a year spotting some of the most rare birds in some of the most exotic locations around the globe. Welsh ornithologists Alan Davies and Ruth Miller have done just that. They’ve sold their home and belongings, quit their jobs and set off to break the bird-spotting world record.

Read more

Bird Breeding Season: The Good News And The Bad News

October 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

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.

Read more

Britain’s Bitterns Respond Positively to Conservation Efforts

September 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Considered to be on the brink of extinction in Britain just over a decade ago, the bittern has made a remarkable come-back, with the species enjoying its best recorded nesting season in the past 130 years. The loud “booming” mating call of the bittern assisted conservationists in tracking the birds, resulting in a count of 75 males, an astonishing 47 percent increase on last year’s numbers and nearly seven times as many as the 11 which were counted in 1997.

Read more

Next Page »