Lapwings hit new low; further declines in UK breeding waders revealed24/07/2012 13:05:42 Waders in decline
July 2012. The latest figures from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) show that four of our breeding waders have reached their lowest levels since the survey started in the early 1990s. Volunteer birdwatchers reported particularly low numbers of Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Snipe and Curlew during the spring of 2011.
These birds breed on wet grassland and upland habitats throughout the UK, where they rely on earthworms and other invertebrates for food, and previous declines have been blamed on habitat loss, land drainage and potential increases in predation pressure. All four species, however, saw sharp declines between 2010 and 2011, of 19% for Oystercatcher, 18% for Lapwing, 40% for Snipe and 13% for Curlew, which may have been due to unfavourable weather conditions during the year exacerbating long-term declines.
"The spring of 2012 has seen the wettest April-to-June period on record, and it's likely that populations of these ground-nesting waders would have also been hit hard this year. Flooding at several key sites has seen hundreds of wader nests washed out, including 600 at the RSPB's Ouse Washes reserve in Cambridgeshire" said Grahame Madge, RSPB Media Officer.
100 species studied
Most studied birds migrate
Since the start of the survey we have lost more than half of the following ten species:
Dr Mark Eaton, Principal Conservation Scientist at the RSPB, said "These results highlight the alarming declines in our summer migrants, which make the long journey from Africa to brighten up our springs, but in ever decreasing numbers. These species may face difficulties on their African wintering areas, their European breeding grounds, and along the routes back and forth between the two; more research is urgently require to pinpoint the problems."
Tree sparrows on the up
Deborah Procter, Senior Monitoring Ecologist at JNCC, said "Understanding what causes annual fluctuations in the population numbers of UK breeding birds gives us an invaluable insight into what drives the observed long term trends. Bringing together the fantastic work done by the many committed BBS volunteers with targeted research gives us a clearer picture of where conservation effort is needed."