Friday, August 29, 2014

Bye Bye Wagtail!

Just been browsing the interweb and I came across this piece on the BT homepage of all places. Usually they post articles about the 'telly', 'people on the telly', and stuff about 'celebs' so it makes a change to see them posting something that is of more concern.
The three species of wagtail that breed in the UK are suffering long-term declines, a study has revealed. Yellow Wagtails, Grey Wagtails and Pied Wagtails are all in decline, according to the annual Breeding Bird Survey's latest report, though conservationists say the reasons for the reductions are not clear.
Yellow Wagtails, farmland birds which migrate to sub-Saharan Africa, have seen numbers reduce by more than two fifths (43%) between 1995 and 2012.
Changes in agriculture are thought to be to blame for the Yellow Wagtail's decline, but as it is a migrant, problems overseas cannot be ruled out, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) said.
Grey Wagtails, a species which lives by rivers, (sic) has declined by almost a third (32%) since the Breeding Bird Survey started 20 years ago, while the familiar Pied Wagtail has seen declines of 11%.
Both birds have shown rapid declines along rivers and canals, according to the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, which focuses on river habitats, and Pied Wagtails have seen steeper declines in the river-based survey than in the general Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) which covers all habitats.
This suggests there may be issues related to rivers which are affecting both species.
The "races" of Pied and Yellow Wagtail which breed in the UK nest virtually nowhere else in the world, conservationists added. Sarah Harris, BBS organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, said: "I find it fascinating that three seemingly similar birds, the Yellow, Grey and Pied Wagtail can lead such different lives and face such a variety of challenges.
"With the UK races of two of these species - Pied and Yellow Wagtails - being largely confined to our islands, these population changes are of global conservation significance."
The results of the survey by the BTO, Government advisers the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and the RSPB, using counts made by volunteer bird watchers, also show declines for key farmland birds.
Grey partridge numbers were down by 56% between 1995 and 2012, and Skylarks have declined by nearly a quarter (24%), with increasingly intensive agriculture playing a key role in their declines, the experts said.
And the latest update reveals that some breeding birds saw a significant year-on-year decline in 2013, as a result of the bad weather conditions in 2012.
Mark Eaton, RSPB principal conservation scientist, said: "This survey is most valuable for showing us trends stretching back nearly 20 years. "However, it also provides a snapshot into changes between years, and this report reveals that 2012 was clearly a bad year for some of our breeding birds. A cold spring followed by the wettest summer on record have to be prime candidates for why many species showed a significant decline in 2013. Of the 36 species which showed a significant change in numbers between 2012 and 2013, 34 decreased."
Hey never seems to get any better!
Grey Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea  Down by 32%

Pied Wagtail - Motacilla alba yarrellii.  Down by 11%

Yellow wagtail - Motacilla flava  Down by 43%

Friday, August 22, 2014

Colour-ringed Sanderling

Whilst bimbling around the beach at Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire yesterday (20th August) I snapped this distant moulting post-breeding adult Sanderling as it fed along the tideline. After cropping the image and magnifying it for use I saw that the bird was carrying a number of coloured leg rings. On the left leg we have green over blue over green and on the right leg it looks to be yellow over white. I'll send this info to The Wash Wader Ringing Group and the BTO and I'll update this page with any additional information on this bird as it becomes available.

Colour-ringed Sanderling, Gibraltar Point, Lincs. 20/08/2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wood Sandpiper at Annesley

Juvenile Wood Sandpipers can be identified by their neatly spotted upperparts and the finely streaked breast and both of these features can be seen quite clearly on this individual which turned up at Annesley Pit Top in Notts, yesterday. A passage migrant that is most likely to be seen during the autumn migration period this bird played true to form. Only a handful of these birds are normally found in Notts. during most years so this was an opportunity to see my first in Notts. for 2014. The legs on this individual were bright yellow and you can see how confusion with Lesser Yellowlegs can occur. Adult birds tend to have greener legs and confusion is less likely. Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Redshank, Greenshank - it's all in the colour of the legs! The bird was quite distant, feeding along the shore of the lower lagoon so I had to add a 2x converter to my 400mm lens. This resulted in me hand-holding the equivalent of an 800mm lens without autofocus so I was expecting a load of blurry out-of-focus shots. As it happened that's exactly what I got but I managed to rescue a dozen or so that will do as record shots. The best four or five are below.
August is a good month for passage waders so I expect a few 'goodies' over the next few weeks!

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper, Annesley, Notts

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper, Annesley, Notts

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper, Annesley, Notts

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper, Annesley, Notts

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper, Annesley, Notts