British wetlands help birds in harsh winter

This video from England is called Slimbridge in Winter.

From Wildlife Extra:

Record numbers of birds used Britain’s wetlands during severe 2010/11 winter

Waterbirds in England respond to cold winter

October 2012. Latest counts collected by Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) volunteers show the internationally important numbers of wildfowl and waders that use English wetlands in winter.

Severe winter of 2010/11

The severe conditions experienced in the 2010/11 winter, described in the latest Waterbirds in the UK report, show that wetlands in the UK can be especially important during harsh winters. During such winters, sites both inland and on the coast act as a refuge for birds forced out of frozen continental Europe.

Top 5 sites contained 1.2 million waterfowl and waders

At the five most important sites (The Wash, Ribble Estuary, Morecambe Bay, North Norfolk Coast, and Thames Estuary), WeBS volunteers counted 1.2 million wildfowl and waders. These numbers indicate how important it is that these coastal areas and others receive suitable protection and that the important waterbird communities continue to be monitored effectively.

Inland wetlands

The two largest inland wetlands, the Somerset Levels and the Ouse Washes, attracted especially large numbers of birds in the 2010/11 winter. At the Somerset Levels, over 50,000 Wigeon and 70,000 Lapwing were both exceptional peaks – tangible evidence of the importance of these sites as cold weather refuges, and the benefits of inland wetland habitat creation and management.

Not all species have thrived

Some waterbirds continue to flourish in the UK – winter populations of Gadwall, Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit have never been higher! But among the 60 waterbird species wintering in the UK for which population trends are produced, eight native species have declined by more than a quarter in the last 25 years:

European White-fronted Goose-79%
Purple Sandpiper -52%
Pochard -50%
Mallard -39%
Bewick’s Swan -32%
Goldeneye -28%
Dunlin -28%
Ringed Plover -25%

David Stroud, Senior Ornithologist at Joint Nature Conservation Committee, said: “The events of the 2010/11 winter were a reminder that we need to co-operate internationally to ensure the effective conservation of these mobile waterbirds. Neighbouring countries are just a short flight away, and the UK needs to continue to work to ensure common approaches for waterbird conservation and management throughout their migratory ranges. Continued support for international treaties such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the European Union’s Birds Directive and the Agreement on the conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds, is especially important.”

Allan Drewitt, Senior Ornithologist at Natural England said: “The evidence from the Wetland Bird Survey is invaluable. Results show the exceptional importance of England’s coasts and estuaries to birds and the vulnerability of wintering species to weather conditions. Information about bird numbers and how they are faring on our protected sites is essential, if we are to continue to look after them.”

Richard Hearn, Head of Monitoring at Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, said: “The Wetland Bird Survey and other waterbird monitoring schemes have again demonstrated their worth by producing results that remind us of the continued importance of Britain and Ireland as a cold weather refuge for migratory waterbirds. It is essential that internationally important wetlands such as the Severn Estuary continue to provide the disturbance-free habitat that these species need to survive the harsh winters that some predict may become more frequent in the future.”

October 2012. RSPB Scotland has expressed serious concern about the latest plan that could lead to the destruction of a protected, nationally important, wildlife site at Hunterston in North Ayrshire: here.

The seven established non-native [waterfowl] species in the UK are: Canada goose, Egyptian goose, black swan, Mandarin duck , barnacle goose, ruddy duck and the red-crested pochard: here.

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5 thoughts on “British wetlands help birds in harsh winter

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