Songbird Numbers Down. Predators Up. So… if we want to hear the dawn chorus, we cannot avoid taking unpleasant action. What has really happened to our farmland birds? Their numbers have fallen by 53 per cent over 40 years even though we are now throwing £1 billion a year into conservation.
The Times 2011 January By Nick Forde -
Photo: Cirl Bunting. Spectacular Charming Cirl Bunting nests on ground within dense hedgerow blackthorn bramble gorse scrub. Sings song of a rattling trill.
“Declined rapidly to just 118 pairs in 1989!” Adversarial our gorgous poor little Cirl Bunting. Ugh Britain? Yet Ever ‘Another’ on Red List. ‘British’- Dead RSPB List… View: Your Lost Birds – & the RSPB
Cont: Is this still due to a lack of money or to Man’s destruction of the environment – or could it be because of a systemic failure? There have been some notable successes, such as the large blue butterfly water voles and some insects and flowers.
Many farmland and other birds are doing very well with no help from us at all: Woodpigeon, Crows, Wildfowl and most other seabirds are flourishing.
They benefit from mankind and they either have few predators or are themselves predators.
The main birds that need our help are ground- nesters, waders and most songbirds. Significantly the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust has just demonstrated that the productivity of ground nesting birds and waders can be boosted by a staggering 300 per cent by carrying out predator control.
The official reasons given for songbird decline are habitat loss and modern farming methods. These have undoubtedly had some effect.
Yet this stance is becoming increasingly untenable. Population Levels Of ALL Predators – Such as cats, corvids (which include crows, jackdaws and magpies) raptors (hawks) grey squirrels, rats and foxes, are now at their highest levels since records begun, many having more than doubled over 40 years.
RSPB Admits – No Research on Predation This Colossal – ‘Killing of Songbirds!’ – “It’s Conservationists – Taboo!”
More importantly new studies have shown that several songbird species have been suffering badly as a result rising levels of predation. Population declines of the tree sparrow (down 89%) and house sparrow (down 74%) have all been blamed on the resurgence of the sparrowhawk in both rural and urban areas. It doesn’t need a scientist to note the frequency of the word ‘sparrow’ here.
‘This sort of scientific evidence is being ignored and quietly buried.’ Cont -
Not one chick has survived ‘Magpies’ in our Blackbird nests – For 3 years 2010!
This – “Extinction Of our Songbirds!” By the RSPB.
Cont: ‘Laying the blame for songbird decline on habitat loss and intensive farming is misleading. Since the 1970’s our habitat has actually been planted and our broad-leaved woodland cover has increased. Farmers are being paid £500 million a year to provide a paradise for wildlife.’
We should have seen a recovery in farmland birds, but this has not been happening.
The numbers killed are colossal – ‘Cats Take 100 Million Songbirds A Year’.
“One reason is that we are producing a paradise for predators too.”
The numbers of songbirds taken by predators is truly colossal.
Best estimates only exist for two predators:
“Cats KILL more than 100 million songbirds! Sparrowhawks KILL about 50 million – A YEAR!!”
Yet books and papers about the loss of our birds never mention the word predation. The subject is taboo in the conservation world. We are told that there is ‘little evidence’ that predation affects songbirds; but this view is based on only three or four papers claiming it is as a localised problem or only affecting a couple of species.
Last year the University of Reading cast serious doubts on the credibility of all these types of observational studies in the first-ever review of such research. Classifying their methodologies as of the very lowest quality. Even the RSPB admits that these papers are out of date.
‘That no fully experimental field study on songbird predation has ever been carried out in the UK is a serious indictment of our failure in this area.’
Most people in conservation work recoil from the very thought of having to control predators. And how many people would want to leave their money to a conservation charity that goes round killing birds and animals? Cont -
Pied Wagtails pause a moment before running again at surprising speed.
Joy to watch as they dart into the air for insects showing their remarkable agility.
Chirpy cheerful flight calls and musical song.
We miss our lost delightfully dapper ‘bustling up – & – down -wagging beauty.’
Help Pied Wagtails: Insectivorous Songbirds have it especially hard in winter needing -
‘Gnats’ and Insect food ‘All Year.’ To build nests they require cracks in holes walls pipes.
Pied Wagtail – Yet another Ghastly UK – Alert list species! ‘Amber?’ Dont Believe it List!
Cont: But we cannot opt out of managing our wildlife -
‘Urban areas are becoming vast reservoirs of predators and pest species.’
Increasing mechanisation means farmers can do less to help.
“The Government’s commitment to reverse the long-term decline in the number of farmland birds by 2020 stands no chance of success until the predation issue is recognised. However, there are no votes in predation control and the Government must take account of the large body of mainly urban opinion that fails to understand the need for the control or culling of any creature.”
Only irrefutable scientific evidence could change this. Add to this conservation becoming inextricably entwined with the world of entertainment and the media relentlessly sentimental wildlife programming is very popular and the broadcasters have no intention of straying from this highly profitable narrative.
None of us wants to control predators but at least, if forced into it, humans can be humane. Cont -
“All wagtails are dainty and delicate but the yellow is the most graceful of them all.”
‘Golden yellow as a field of dandelions.’ Sweet robin-like singing.
Of conservation ‘concern.’ Yellow Wagtail are DEAD – By ‘over 75%!’
2010: BTO – ‘‘Huge falls have been recorded for our Yellow Wagtails.”
Disastrous carnage-Red DEAD List ‘Again’ Species! ‘RED’ Since 1970’s…!
Cont: Most threats to our wildlife are man-made and we ignore the predation issue at
our peril. When the science finally catches up let us hope -
That it will not be too late for many species.
We do have a window of opportunity: The new Government arguably more friendly towards the countryside than the previous one, is preparing a White Paper on the environment for the spring.
Most large conservation organisations are neither structurally nor culturally capable of dealing with the issue of rising levels of uncontrolled predation: the initiative must come from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
‘Unfortunately DEFRA relies on these same organisations for advice’…
However, we can do something immediately. We just need to insist that a fraction of the hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers money allocated to agri-environment schemes and conservation charities is spent on high-quality, peer-reviewed research on the impact of rising levels of predation.
‘This will contribute to a consensus and a clearer way forward to restore our farmland birds.’ The Times: 2011 January – By Nick Forde
OpEd Live From 1pm. Watch Nick Forde explain why Britain must control its huge predator numbers: thetimes.co.uk/opinion
Songbirds-Slaughter: Write: – To your MP, All Councils, RSPB; Patron the Queen – Remember Join only – ‘Grass root charities.’
RSPB Admits – ‘No Research’ On Predation… ‘Conservationists’ TABOO… This – Colossal Killing of Garden Songbirds? – BUT, DO YOU CARE?
Copyright © 2011 Songbirds Slaughter -