UK Bird News January 2013

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RSPB asks wildlife lovers to step-up their bird feeding now cold weather is here

RSPB asks wildlife lovers to step-up their bird feeding now cold weather is here

15 January 2013

With sub zero temperatures suddenly upon us, the RSPB is advising people to make sure their bird feeders and tables are full of high energy foods.

Richard James, one of the RSPB’s wildlife advisors, said: “The sudden drop in temperatures across the UK will have been a big shock to birds’ systems after spending the past couple of months with few worries in terms of food availability. Thanks to the recent mild weather, many natural food sources have been readily available and water has been easy to come by. Now the snow and ice are here birds will need all the help they can get to survive the winter.”

The RSPB suggests calorie-rich foods like mixed seed, nyjer seed, fatballs, suet sprinkles, sunflower seed and good quality peanuts, as well as kitchen scraps, like mild grated cheese, rice and porridge oats.

A supply of water is also essential for bathing and preening. In freezing conditions birds become more dependent on water provided in gardens, since many natural sources are frozen over. The most effective way to keep the water in your garden from freezing is to pop in a light ball that will be moved by even a gentle breeze and keep a small amount of water ice free – a ping-pong ball is ideal. Alternatively, pour on hot water to melt the ice to make sure the birds can get to it.

Richard added: “With the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch coming up on the weekend of 26 and 27 January, keeping your feeders, tables and bird baths topped-up will not only make sure your garden visitors are well fed and looked after, it’ll also encourage them into your garden just in time for you to take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey.”

The RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch is back on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 January 2013, giving people across the UK the chance to be part of the world’s biggest wildlife survey. To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time. They then have three weeks to submit their results to the RSPB, either online at or in the post.

The RSPB stocks a range of bird foods and safe, high-quality feeders for your garden birds. 100% of profits go to helping birds & wildlife. For more information or to purchase items, visit

For more information about safe ways to feed birds, how best to look after the wildlife in your garden and ways to avoid the pitfalls, visit

Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project gets Green Light

Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project gets Green Light

A major new 25 year partnership project to provide a safe future for internationally important seabird populations on the Isles of Scilly has been given the green light with major funding [Note 1] from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the EU LIFE programme being secured.

The islands are home to breeding populations of 14 species and approximately 20,000 birds. This includes storm petrel and Manx shearwater for which the UK has a global responsibility. Since 1983 though these populations have been in decline and one out of four birds lost.

The project has a number of aims including the protection and restoration of seabird islands, increasing the number of people actively involved in seabird conservation, and enabling the islands to make the most of these assets by providing better access and enjoyment for people, which provides the income for islanders that will help secure the future of these birds.

One of the major threats to the seabirds is predation of eggs and chicks by rats. Work over the last 15 years on the uninhabited islands has left them rat-free but further work is required to maintain them as seabird friendly. With the support of the local community, conservationists now have the same ambition for the inhabited islands of St Agnes and Gugh.

The project will be managed by a coalition of groups including RSPB, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Duchy of Cornwall the Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) partnership and a representative from the islands, with support from the Isles of Scilly Bird Group. A project manager has recently been appointed.

Paul St Pierre, RSPB Conservation Officer, said; “As well as seeking to bolster the population of seabirds, we want our project to involve more people in the celebration, enjoyment and protection of the islands’ seabird heritage.”

“The Isles of Scilly has long traded rightly on the quality of its natural environment and seabirds are a major element of that. Who can imagine a trip here in spring or summer, for instance, without trying to see the puffins?

“We want this project to help these islands make more of their seabird heritage and to strengthen still further its image as a seabird-friendly destination through the use of various media, including web technology, for an ever wider audience.

“Those involved will be working closely with the local community to help them make the most of this important part of the islands’ economy. In sharing this experience with similar communities elsewhere, we hope this will encourage and support others in giving their seabirds a brighter future.”

David Mawer, Senior Conservation Warden, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust said: “This is a very exciting project and will bring many benefits to wildlife, locals and visitors, and crucially it will safeguard Annet, Scilly’s most important seabird reserve. The successful removal of rats from the uninhabited island of St. Helen’s resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of Manx shearwaters breeding there. The eerie cries and shadowy silhouettes of seabirds at dusk could soon be another wildlife spectacle enjoyed by locals and visitors on St. Agnes. To hear storm petrels singing magically from within the boulder beaches would be really wonderful. Seabirds already attract visitors to Scilly, and this project and the clever use of technology can reveal more of their fascinating lives, whilst leaving the seabirds free from unwanted disturbance.”

The project is funded jointly by HLF, who announced their award today, and the EU LIFE Nature Programme, Natural England, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Duchy of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund.

Speaking for HLF, Richard Bellamy, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund South West, said “We have some wonderful native wildlife on the Isles of Scilly and collectively we have a responsibility for its survival. It is the prospect of glimpsing rare species, such as the storm petrel and Manx shearwater, that attracts many visitors to our shores bringing much-needed tourist income to our rural communities. This project gives us all the opportunity to learn more about seabirds and the role they place in the Isle of Scilly’s biodiversity and help secure their future.”

Mr Angelo Salsi, Head of the LIFE Nature Unit within the European Commission said; “I am delighted that EU life funding will allow restoration of the islands for the benefit of seabirds. These islands form a vital part of the Isles of Scilly Special Protection Area, which in turn is part of the EU-wide Natura 2000 network of sites, including all the best and most valuable examples of our common European natural heritage. The work that the team will carry out will be of great benefit to the seabirds that breed on St Agnes, Gugh and the neighbouring island of Annet, and will also help to improve the quality of life of the people who live on St Agnes and Gugh.”

The project will start in early 2013.


1. HLF has awarded the project £269,100, alongside EU Life fund £460,255, with further contributions from Isles of Scilly AONB Sustainable Development Fund, The Duchy of Cornwall, Isle of Scilly Wildlife Trust and Natural England.

2. For more details of the project visit:

3. Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 30,000 projects, allocating £4.9billion across the UK. Website: Contact Laura Bates, Communications Manager,, 020 7591 6027

'Vicious' gamekeeper convicted of killing buzzards

'Vicious' gamekeeper convicted of killing buzzards

10 January 2013

A Lincolnshire gamekeeper has today been convicted of killing two buzzards and possessing a quantity of an illegally-held poison, which the RSPB says would have been enough to destroy all the birds of prey in Lincolnshire.

71-year-old Robert William Hebblewhite, of Appleby, Scunthorpe, was fined a total £1950 after he was convicted of killing two buzzards and possessing Carbofuran, a banned poison. The buzzards were found dead on land at Blyton, where he works as a gamekeeper. Toxicology tests revealed the birds had died from Carbofuran poisoning after the poison was laced on pheasant carcasses which the buzzards tried to feed on.

In court Hebblewhite heard the judge describe him as an ‘old-fashioned’ gamekeeper who resorted to ‘vicious’ methods. The judge regretted the death of the two buzzards but added that it was ‘lucky’ that no other creature or human had discovered the poisoned baits first.

Hebblewhite had pleaded guilty to possessing Carbofuran at an earlier hearing on 15 October, 2012.
Poison in circulation

The RSPB’s Mark Thomas who was at Lincoln Magistrates Court for the conviction, said: “The possession and use of Carbofuran is illegal, and yet birds of prey are still being killed by this poison. This conviction shows this poison is still in circulation in quantities sufficient to kill huge numbers of birds of prey. A few grains of the poison will kill a bird of prey; a jar is enough to kill all the birds of prey in a county.

“With yet another gamekeeper convicted of poisoning birds of prey, it is time for this illegal and indiscriminate practise to be consigned to the pages of history.”

The RSPB believes it is a widespread practice to place poison on a rabbit or pheasant carcass which is then left for birds of prey to consume. Sometimes even pets are the unfortunate victim, and since 2000 the RSPB has evidence of such poison abuse incidents affecting at least 56 dogs and 22 cats.

Jeff Knott is the RSPB’s species policy officer. Commenting on the case, he said: “Reporting last year, the Environmental Audit Committee’s review into wildlife crime recognised the significance of these poisons and called on the Government to bring in simple measures to further limit their use. These steps have yet to be taken and we would encourage Defra to move quickly to do so."

The RSPB would like to thank: the Lincolnshire Police - especially PC Nick Willey; Natural England; the Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA); and the Health and Safety executive (HSE).

There are currently 240 pairs of buzzard nesting in Lincolnshire, but the birds only recolonised the county in 1997. Historically, buzzards were absent from much of eastern Britain because of persecution.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Bird news for Britain / Rest of the World | UK Bird News | Bird News for United Kingdom 2013 |  UK Bird News January 2013

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