British Birds April 2012

The April issue of British Birds is now out and its contents include...

The Nightingale in Britain: status, ecology and conservation needs

The Common Nightingale is currently on the UK’s Amber list of birds of conservation concern, but the recent population trend indicates that the species now warrants Red-list status. The population in England has been in decline since at least the mid 1960s, with an especially steep decline up to the late 1970s. In mainland Europe the recent pattern (post 1970s) is one of relative stability. Knowledge of habitat requirements and pressures facing Nightingales in England has developed considerably in the last decade. Reduced woodland management activity in recent decades, combined with effects of intensified browsing by increasing deer populations are considered to have caused deterioration of habitat quality in woodland. A national census takes place in spring 2012 which will contribute to a suggested strategy for the conservation of the Nightingale in England, outlined here by Chas Holt, Chris Hewson and Rob Fuller.

The Great Bustard in Hungary
Until the early part of the twentieth century the Great Bustard was fairly widespread in Hungary but hunting and modern farming practices have led to a dramatic contraction in its range. It is now restricted to just ten sites throughout the country where it receives some degree of protection. Hungary currently supports about 1,500 Great Bustards, making it the most important country in Europe for this species after Spain and Russia. Human activity, in particular in relation to agriculture, is a crucial factor in relation to the species’ long-term survival.

Spotted Crakes breeding in Britain and Ireland: a history and evaluation of current status
The Spotted Crake is a very rare breeding bird in Britain and Ireland, with around 30–80 singing males or pairs recorded annually. Following major declines in the mid nineteenth century, it appears to have increased in the latter decades of the twentieth century, although there is evidence of a decrease after 2001. A comprehensive collation of published and unpublished information showed that, in most years, more than twice the number of singing males was recorded than the official Rare Breeding Birds Panel record suggests. The lack of submission of records is hampering the identification and protection of nationally important sites for Spotted Crakes, and the process to rectify this is time-consuming. Better information is needed urgently to improve our understanding of this rare and cryptic species, and authors David Stroud, Ian Francis and Rachel Stroud hope that the 2012 national survey will improve knowledge and ensure that the species’ conservation needs receive greater priority in future.

Notes

Topics this month include: Eurasian Teals diving; Hobbies feeding around trains; Black Guillemots in brackish water; Interactions between Common Raven and Mountain Hare; and Puffin predation by Atlantic Cod.

Book reviews, News & comment and Recent reports complete the issue.

For more details, and to see a recent issue of the magazine, visit our website at www.britishbirds.co.uk