November 2007

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | UK Bird News | Bird News for United Kingdom 2007 |  November 2007

Action needed to help wildlife weather the storm

Action needed to help wildlife weather the storm

9th November 2007
The breeding grounds for some of the UK's rarest birds have narrowly escaped the storm surge that swept down the coast of East Anglia last night and this morning.
In the wake of the surge, the RSPB has called for urgent Government action to create large areas of important habitat like reedbeds further inland to prepare for the day when the sea claims large areas of the English coast.
Freshwater reedbeds along the coasts and Broads of Norfolk and Suffolk are home to more than 70 per cent of the UK's breeding male bitterns. There were just 51 breeding males recorded this year, with 37 in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Several areas have flooded however, including reedbeds at the RSPB's reserve at Dingle Marshes in Suffolk and the neighbouring NNR at Walberswick, both considered prime bittern habitat.For the first time, the sea has also managed to overtop the wall protecting the large Westwood Marshes reedbed on the site.
Saltwater is still pouring into the reedbeds at the Society's Strumpshaw Fen reserve, killing large numbers of fish in the second major flood in as many years. No bitterns are likely to breed there next spring, while other birds and otters are likely to be short of food.
It is estimated more than 1,000 hectares of freshwater reedbeds and grazing marsh will be lost to flooding and erosion along the coasts of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex in the near future.
Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's director of conservation, said: 'This has been a close run thing, but sea levels are rising and storms are only going to become more frequent as our climate warms.
'This whole coast is of huge value for wildlife, covered in sites of international importance and it is imperative the Government acts now to create the habitat plants and animals are going to need if they are to survive in a changing world.
'Starting from scratch, it can take 15 years to get somewhere up and running as a breeding site for bittern. It can be done but Government needs to get on and do it. They have been talking about this for years while the threat has grown. Every winter now, there is some flooding.'

'The project will enable more people to experience first hand the wonderful variety of birds and other wildlife'

'The project will enable more people to experience first hand the wonderful variety of birds and other wildlife'

A landmark in white-tailed eagle history

19 November 2007
Scotland's breeding population of white-tailed eagles has risen dramatically to its highest number since the reintroduction programme began more than 30 years ago.
Figures from the 2007 survey show there are now 42 territorial breeding pairs of the UK's biggest bird of prey, an increase of six pairs since last year. It has also been the most successful year in terms of chicks produced, with 24 successful broods fledging a total of 34 young birds.
When added to the young birds that have yet to find a mate and establish a territory, there are probably now around 200 white-tailed eagles resident in Scotland, giving tourists and wildlife watching enthusiasts their best ever chance of witnessing these spectacular and inspiring birds - often referred to as 'flying barn doors' due to their sheer size.
The on-going monitoring of sea eagles, as they are also known, is conducted by the Sea Eagle Project team, which includes the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Forestry Commission Scotland.
Skye, Mull and the Western Isles remain as the core population area since the species were brought back from extinction by reintroduction programmes, first on the island of Rum from 1975 to 1983 and then on Wester Ross from 1993 to 1998. But they are now beginning to significantly expand this range, and this year, breeding pairs have established territories as far south as the Argyll islands and west on to the mainland in the Highland district of Lochaber.
Now the final phase of the programme to firmly establish a population right across Scotland is introducing chicks taken from nests in Norway to the east coast. 15 chicks were released in Fife at the beginning of August, and up to 20 young birds from Norway will be released each year for the next four years.
It is hoped that this population will eventually mix with the west coast birds and set up territories right round the suitable coastal habitats of Scotland. In a bid to right some of the wrongs perpetrated by their ancestors, the Irish have taken similar steps to reintroduce white-tailed eagles in the Killarney area of south-west Ireland as well.
Jeremy Wilson, head of research at RSPB Scotland and the chairman of the Sea Eagle Project Team, said: 'It has been a fantastic year for these stunning birds, which are now firmly established as a totem of the incredible natural heritage that Scotland plays host to.
'This breeding population is likely to continue to rise in coming years as juveniles from the reintroduction programmes reach sexual maturity, find vacant territories and pair up with a mate, with which they remain faithful for life. Eventually, as they continue to spread out, and west and east coast populations meet, we can expect to see these majestic birds all around Scotland's coast, bringing this fantastic and inspiring spectacle to people throughout the country.'
Mull's white-tailed eagles have become a firmly established tourist magnet, pulling in thousands of wildlife enthusiasts who boost the island's economy by as much as £1.7 million annually, according to a recent economic survey. The 350,000 visitors that go to Mull every year spend £38 million on the island, and of this between £1.45m and £1.69m is attracted by the presence of the white-tailed eagles.
Andy Douse, ornithologist with SNH, said: 'Continued steady progress of white-tailed eagles on the west coast of Scotland is excellent news. However, SNH considers the reintroduction programme started on Rum to be incomplete, which is why we have included white-tailed eagles in our Species Action Framework and why we are involved in partnership with RSPB and Forestry Commission Scotland in an exciting new project to restore white-tailed eagles to Scotland's east coast.
'This, combined with a thriving west coast population, should help secure white-tailed eagles once again as an iconic part of Scotland's natural heritage.'
Moira Baptie, environment manager for Forestry Commission Scotland, said: 'We are delighted to play our part in restoring this iconic bird to its former range in Scotland, working in partnership with RSPB, SNH and others, as part of our wider commitment to sustainable management of the national forest estate.'

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | UK Bird News | Bird News for United Kingdom 2007 |  November 2007

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