Sunday, November 26, 2017

Down And Down

No apologies today for returning to a recurrent theme of Another Bird Blog. From a recent article in The Guardian newspaper.

The latest official figures show that birds on the UK’s farmland have seen numbers decline by almost a tenth in five years. Farmland bird populations have declined by 56% since 1970, largely due to agricultural changes including the loss of mixed farming, a switch to autumn sowing of crops, a reduction in hay meadows and the stripping out of hedgerows. 

While the majority of the decline happened during the late 1970s and 1980s as farming practices changed rapidly, there was a 9% decline between 2010 and 2015, the statistics from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) show. 

The latest figures have prompted renewed calls for an overhaul of farming as the UK leaves the EU and its system of agricultural subsidies, to support wildlife and farming. The data showed some “specialist” species, those restricted to or highly dependent on farmland habitats, have seen precipitous falls - Corn Buntings, Grey Partridge, Turtle Doves and Tree Sparrows have all suffered declines of more than 90% since 1970, though others such as Stock Doves and Goldfinches saw populations double. 

For Turtle Doves in particular, dramatic falls continue, with numbers down 71% between 2010 and 2015. 

Corn Bunting

Grey Partridge

For those of us out in the countryside on a regular basis these figures are no surprise, just a confirmation of that we know to be true. 

Elsewhere in the countryside, woodland birds have seen numbers remain relatively stable over the last five years, although they are down almost a quarter (23%) since 1970. Across all species, including farmland, woodland, wetland, waterbirds and seabirds, numbers are down around 8% on 1970 the figures show. 

The RSPB’s head of land use policy, Jenna Hegarty, said: “Birdsong from some of our most iconic species once filled the air, but for many years the soundtrack of our countryside – from the song of the Skylark to the purr of the Turtle Dove – has become quieter and quieter. 

Turtle Dove

“Today’s figures show the number of farmland birds continues to drop. The farmland bird indicator has fallen by 9% in the last five years – the worst period of decline since the late 1980s. Many farmers are doing great things, and without their efforts, today’s figures would undoubtedly be worse. But the current agriculture system doesn’t work for our farmers or our natural environment, something needs to change."

“Leaving the EU gives us a seminal opportunity to overhaul the system, and use public money to build a more sustainable future, reversing the dramatic declines in farmland wildlife and supporting resilient and thriving farm businesses into the future.” 

Hear, hear.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday


Steve Gale said...

Phil, my understanding is that leaving the EU will allow the removal of environmental protections, not increase them.

Phil Slade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Slade said...

We need to consider this.

Whether we like it or not the United Kingdom will leave the EU in March 2019. This will present Great Britain with a chance to increase and strengthen exiting environmental in our countryside by our own elected representatives. This will be without the constraints of laws and rules devised by 27 other nations, many of whom do not even adhere to existing EU laws.

Betty Crow said...

Thanks for the help on mine. I love the turtle dove and the grey partridge is new to me. Beautiful!

Stewart M said...

These pictures and great, although the data around them is not. I can only hope (from afar) that some of he changes that BREXIT will cause will be of benefit to the environment. There is always hope!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

eileeninmd said...

Hello, gorgeous birds and photos. I love the Partridge and the Dove. I hope the wildlife and environment are always protected. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

Stuart Price said...

Corn Bunting and Gray Partridge were common when I was a young birder 35 years ago. Shame what has happened since. Well at least we have the egrets and avocets now...........

Wally Jones said...

You made my coffee turn sour.

I truly hope you are right that as Great Britain re-learns how to govern for its citizens that the environment will benefit. Protecting nature by committee, especially a committee which is on another continent, just doesn't seem like the best idea.

Here in the U.S., we abdicated environmental responsibility to another type of committee, the government-inspired model of "Agri-business". Subsidies paid to traditional farmers to NOT grow crops. We sowed the wind and are now reaping the whirlwind.

For all our sakes, I continue to dream our children and grandchildren will be able to correct our mistakes.

Now that you've spoiled my coffee, I may have to go fix a cup of -- tea.
These are truly desperate times.

Fun60 said...

Never seen a grey partridge before.

NC Sue said...

Thanks for joining us at Your photos are always so interesting. It gives me the opportunity to "see" creatures that aren't found here.

Lady Fi said...

Lovely shots, but so very sad to read about decline in bird population.

Judee Algazi said...

Thanks for taking the time to share about the diminishing bird populations in UK. It is so sad but I wonder how the farming practices are also affecting the human population that we don't realize. Lovely photos and especially love the gray partridge

Lowcarb team member said...

Very sad to read about the decline in the bird population.
Let us hope that in future years this can and will be reversed.
Loved your photographs.

All the best Jan

David Gascoigne said...

Hello Phil: Dismal stuff indeed, and a dismaying start to reconnecting with your blog after returning from Cuba last night. The Internet connection down there was almost non existent so I have not been following much. Great birding there though, with forays into the legendary Zapata Swamp.Now it's time to start downloading pictures.

Patti said...

It's always sad to see the decline in bird numbers. Lovely photos.

Angie said...

I recently read a book called "Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman - Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland", by Miriam Horn. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in influencing conservation while also taking into consideration that folks such as ranchers, farmers and fishermen need to make a reasonable living. This book shows that there is a win-win to be found. And it starts with folks like yourself raising the 'alarm' - thank you!

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