Results of the Big Garden Birdwatch 2011 March 31, 2011
Fears about the impact of last December’s severe weather, the coldest in 100 years, were unfounded. The drop in small bird populations witnessed in the RSPB Birdwatch of 2010 during the Big Freeze was rectified by excellent breeding conditions in the following spring. Small birds in recovery notably include goldcrests, long-tailed tits and coal tits.
Another interesting result of the survey were the numerous sightings of waxwings, reflecting both the large numbers migrating from Scandinavia this winter and the “bird-friendly” berry-producing vegetation people are increasingly planting in their gardens. A record 600,000 people took part. The results compared with last year:
House sparrow – 4.2 birds per garden in 2011, rise from 3.8 in 2010
Starling – 3.9, up from 3.1
Blackbird – 3.3, stayed the same
Blue tit – 3.2, up from 2.6
Chaffinch – 2.4, up from 2.2
Wood pigeon – 1.9, stayed the same
Great tit – 1.6, up from 1.4
Goldfinch – 1.5, up from 1.3
Robin – 1.5, stayed the same
Collared Dove – 1.3, stayed the same at 1.3
Oldest osprey returns to Scotland March 30, 2011
The oldest osprey of the UK – and probably the world – has returned to her eyrie in the Scottish highlands. When she left for West Africa at the end of last summer, no one expected her to return. At 26 she’s lived 3 times longer than most female ospreys. In her life she’s laid 58 eggs and hatched 48 chicks, a massive individual contribution to the survival of ospreys in Scotland, where there are still only about 200 breeding pairs. The questions now are if her mate will return and if she is still fertile. Events can be followed on the webcam of the Loch of the Lowes reserve.
Urban fox on the 72nd floor February 27, 2011
The construction company currently finishing off the Shard building in London, which will be the UK’s tallest skyscraper, recently had to call the council to remove a squatter from the 72nd floor: a young fox. He was surviving on scraps left by builders. After a check-up at the Riverside Animal Centre, the fox has been released on the streets of Bermondsey, having shown the type of curiosity we associate with cats.
On closer inspection the object turned into a large swan mussel which was firmly clamped to the lower mandible of the bird, the coot lay down in the grass and appeared quite weak so this situation must have in place for some time, preventing the bird from feeding. More here
Cleaner rivers in the UK December 31, 2010
Otters, water voles and fish are all benefitting from the improved quality of the UK’s waterways, now described as the cleanest since the industrial revolution. Since almost disappearing from the wild in the 1970s, otters are thriving, particularly in the south west of England, Cumbria and Northumberland. The population of water voles, highly precarious in the 1990s, is also beginning to recover. The good results of stricter pollution controls and extensive conservation work are set to continue in the new year with the introduction of new European water quality directives. Guardian
Polar bears reach Britain? December 29, 2010 I thought this article by Michael McCarthy in The Indepedent was amusing:
“Reports of polar bears travelling to Britain made the news earlier this year. The RSPB suggested that one had been washed up still alive on the Hebridean island of Mull – the story was an April Fool. The second report came in September when Naomi Lloyd, a presenter of ITV’s West Country breakfast bulletin, excitedly informed viewers that a polar bear had been washed up dead at the Cornish seaside town of Bude. The animal turned out to be a cow, which had been bleached white by the seawater.”
See also: Polar bear washes up on Scotland’s Isle of Mull