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Dramatic changes for East Anglian waterbirds

PUBLISHED: 06:10 19 February 2010 | UPDATED: 09:17 01 August 2010

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica flock in flight over water.Photo: Sue Tranter, (rspb-images.com).

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica flock in flight over water.Photo: Sue Tranter, (rspb-images.com).

Chris Bishop

A million birds a year migrate to and from the wetlands and reserves of East Anglia - and a report out today shows dramatic changes in the populations of some species.

Chris Bishop

A million birds a year migrate to and from the wetlands and reserves of East Anglia - and a report out today shows dramatic changes in the populations of some species.

Waterbirds in the UK 2007/08, published by the RSPB and other conservation groups, analyses 50 of our commonest winter visitors.

Some species such as black-tailed godwit, little egret and knot are increasing. But bar-tailed godwit, ringed plover, pochard, and Greenland white-fronted goose are in decline.

Rob Lucking, the RSPB's Wash and North Norfolk area manager, said: “Two aspects of this long-running study really stand out - firstly that bird populations change over time, understanding this is critical to developing future conservation strategies and secondly that the UK's wetlands - and particularly those on the coast, like The Wash - are of enormous importance to the survival of a great number of waterbirds which migrate from many other countries.

“The protection and wise management of our wetlands is a priority to ensure that they continue to provide a lifeline to bird populations in the face of climate change and rising sea levels.”

The annual report is based on the fieldwork of around 3000 bird surveyors participating in synchronized monthly counts at wetlands, including estuaries, marshes, lakes and reservoirs, across the UK.

Over the last five years the most important sites for waterbirds in the UK have been (in order with the average number of birds): The Wash (371,308); the Ribble Estuary (238,160); the North Norfolk coast (206,703); Morecambe Bay (197,291); and the Thames Estuary (186,302).

The report is produced by the British Trust for Ornithology, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, the RSPB, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

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