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Fewer waterbirds travelling to winter in UK
The ringed plover is among the species which have seen a decline in UK numbers in the last 25 years.
Change attributed to milder winters in eastern and northern Europe.

Fewer waterbirds are travelling to the UK for the winter, the annual Wetland Bird Survey has revealed.

The report for 2022/23,
which also includes data from the Goose and Swan Monitoring Programme, shows that species which normally come to the UK to escape harsh winter conditions in northern and eastern Europe are no longer arriving in such large numbers.

As the climate in those regions becomes milder and damper, the birds are remaining closer to their breeding grounds.

For example, the number of Bewick’s swans travelling to UK has declined by 96 per cent in the past 25 years, with goldeneye numbers dropping by 50 per cent, and dunlin by a third. The Bewick’s swan is also experiencing a decline in its breeding population.

However, some birds that would leave the UK for the winter to travel to southern Europe, such as the black-tailed godwit, are now staying.

The data for the survey was collected by more than 3,800 volunteers who carried out counts in 3,325 wetlands
across the UK.

Simon Wotton, senior conservation scientist at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), said: “The Wetland Bird Survey, alongside the Goose and Swan Monitoring Programme is an invaluable tool for better understanding the impact of climate change on our wintering waterbirds that typically breed further north and east.

“The scientific community owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers whose coordinated efforts make these long-term studies possible.”

Wetland Bird Survey is project managed by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the RSPB, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The Goose and Swan Monitoring Programme is coordinated by BTO, JNCC, and NatureScot.

The full report can be read on the BTO’s website.

Image © Shutterstock

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Reporting service for dead wild birds updated

News Story 1
 The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has updated its online reporting service for dead wild birds.

The new version allows those reporting a dead bird to drop a pin on a map when reporting the location. It also includes a wider range of wild bird species groups to select from when describing the bird.

The online service, which helps APHA to monitor the spread of diseases such as avian influenza, can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
NI chief vet urges bluetongue vigilance

Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer (CVO) has urged farmers to be vigilant for signs of bluetongue, after the Animal and Plant Health Agency warned there was a very high probability of further cases in Great Britain.

There have been 126 confirmed cases of bluetongue virus serotype 3 in England since November 2023, with no cases reported in Northern Ireland. The movement of live ruminants from Great Britain to Northern Ireland is currently suspended.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the virus is most likely to enter Northern Ireland through infected animals or germplasm (semen or ova) being imported.

Brian Dooher, Northern Ireland's CVO, said: "Surveillance for this disease within Northern Ireland has been increased to assist with detection at the earliest opportunity which will facilitate more effective control measures."

Farmers should report any suspicions of the disease to their private veterinary practitioner, the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840 or their local DAERA Direct Veterinary Office.