Breeding Birds Falter
News from the BTO
31st March 1997
The report for the 1995 breeding season for 79 species of birds is published in the latest issue of BTO News, the newsletter of the British Trust for Ornithology. More than 30,000 cards were returned and the analysis of the last 25 years of data has lead to alerts being issued to the Government Conservation Agencies for ten species. These are long-term declines in breeding performance and are a cause for concern.
The three species with the HIGH ALERT status are the Hen Harrier, Bullfinch and Reed Bunting. Hen Harriers are under threat from persistent illegal persecution on grouse moors and through the loss of small mammal populations through increasing forestry. The decline is in clutch size and in survival during the egg stage. Bullfinch numbers have dropped by 57% in the last 25 years. Average brood sizes over the last few years are amongst the lowest recorded. The Reed Bunting has been on the alert list for five years. Nest losses are still 50% greater than they were in the 1970s.
On lower - medium - alert status were notified for Red-throated Diver, Lapwing, Kingfisher and Stonechat. For all four species nest losses have been increasing in recent years. The first three may be badly affected by recent dry summers.
Low alert species were re-notified for the Moorhen, Raven and Greenfinch.
The number of cards received broke the 1,000,000 level during the year. This represents an enormous effort from the volunteer nest recorders. The Nest Record Scheme is part of the BTO's Integrated Population Monitoring Programme carried out under contract with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, on behalf of English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Countryside Council for Wales, and under a contract from the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. It provides an essential part of the unrivalled bird monitoring service which the BTO Provides.