British Birds July 2011

The July issue of British Birds is now out and contains the following:

On the edge: can the Spoon-billed Sandpiper be saved?

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper is thought to be one of the most endangered birds in the world. The latest information suggests that the population is in free fall and, if current trends continue, could be at such low levels that extinction through random events could happen within 5–10 years. Habitat loss at key staging posts on the bird’s 8,000-km migration route to and from its southern and southeast Asian wintering grounds may be one factor in this charismatic wader’s decline, but recent research suggests that trapping on the wintering grounds may be the primary reason for the recent acceleration in the rate of decline. Debbie Pain, Rhys Green and Nigel Clark outline the conservation priorities for this species and the feasibility of a conservation breeding programme, either to support an existing small population or to re-establish one that has become extinct, is discussed.

Overwinter population estimates of British waterbirds

In total, over 12.5 million waterbirds occur in Britain in the winter. Estimates of the numbers of these non-breeding waterbirds are important for the birds’ conservation, both for status assessments and for the identification and designation of nationally and internationally important sites. This paper, by a team of authors headed by the BTO’s Andy Musgrove, collates data from a wide range of sources, principally for the period 2004/05 to 2008/09, and produces estimates for 92 different species or populations, some using novel analytical methods developed by the authors. For 15 species or populations, formal estimates of wintering numbers are presented for the first time. The estimates demonstrate that species such as Avocet, Gadwall and, especially, Little Egret have increased substantially in the last decade, while others, such as Greenland White-fronted Goose, Dunlin and Common Pochard, have declined markedly.

Conservation Research News
Global health check – indicators of biodiversity loss
Farming, climate change and African wintering areas – the changing drivers of bird population trends
Stressed Capercaillies near winter ski slopes
Foraging areas of immature Northern Gannets

As usual, a range of reviews, news & comment and a summary of recent reports complete the issue.

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