1995 an Excellent Year for Waterways Birds
Bird On! News
1st November 1996
Members of the British Trust for Ornithology have been monitoring the breeding population of our waterway birds for 22 years. The results for the 1995 survey show that they did very well indeed with 18 of the 20 species increasing - eight of them significantly - and only one declined significantly. This was the Common Sandpiper whose population is at its lowest level on record.
The survey involves mapping territories beside rivers and canals each year on study plots. The results can then be compared directly to estimate the national change in numbers. Almost 450 kms were mapped in 99 plots for the comparison between 1994 and 1995. The most widespread bird was the Mallard on 97 of the plots but, with 2107 pairs counted, there were less counted than colonial Sand Martins found on only 22 plots nut numbering 2949.
The significant increases were recorded for Mallard (up15%), Tufted Duck (+36%), Moorhen (+13%), Coot (+9%), Kingfisher (+35%), Sand Martin (+89%), Grey Wagtail (+23%) and Sedge Warbler (+26%). Common Sandpipers declined by 11%.
Two of the biggest increases, of Sand Martin and Sedge Warbler concerned birds which are summer migrants and spend their winters just South of the Sahara. Other species which stay at home for the winter will have benefited from the run of mild winters. These results are excellent news not just for dedicated bird watchers but also for all the people who enjoy walking along rivers and canals and enjoying the wildlife. However there are still concerns about long term changes of some species - for instance the Yellow Wagtail population is at a very low level and Reed Buntings are not increasing even after mild winter weather.