Monday, 10 July 2017

Conservationists alarmed by killing of protected birds in Lancashire

·         Large numbers of a protected bird killed on a grouse moor
·         RSPB calls on Natural England to take urgent action

The RSPB has learned that large numbers of protected birds are being killed on a grouse moor in Lancashire.

A RSPB staff member working in the Bowland area discovered two estate workers shooting nesting lesser black-backed gulls - on a grouse moor managed by the Abbeystead Estate - leaving their chicks to be either killed by dogs or left to starve. 

Lesser blacked-backed gulls have been nesting on the moors of Lancashire for more than 80 years. The recovering colony in Bowland is one of the most important in the UK and is protected under British and European law, having once been in excess of 20,000 pairs. Lesser blacked-backed gulls are declining across the UK and the RSPB is becoming increasing worried about their future in the UK. 

This species can only be legally culled if they pose a threat to human health, risk spreading disease or are having a negative effect on other species of conservation concern. The RSPB understands Natural England - the government agency for responsible for protecting the countryside – granted consent for the cull. But while the nature conservation organisation has repeatedly asked Natural England for scientific evidence which would justify a cull, none has been forthcoming. 

Although the RSPB has yet to see the full details of the consent, it has reason to believe that the landowner may have breached both the letter and the spirit of the agreement, and is calling on Natural England to investigate the matter urgently. 

Graham Jones, RSPB Conservation Area Manager for North West England, said: “We are devastated that this cull of a protected species has been taking place, apparently without any justification. 

“Although it may occasionally be necessary to cull a small number of large gulls for conservation and health reasons, there is absolutely no evidence to support it in this case.

“We want Natural England to tell us why they think the gulls at Bowland met the legal criteria for a cull and also want them look into whether the terms of an already flawed agreement have been broken.

“Bowland should be a safe place for this declining species and Natural England should be focussing on helping the colony’s recovery.”

“We believe the only reason these protected birds are being killed is simply to satisfy the requirements resulting from the ongoing unsustainable approach to grouse moor management.”

New survey reveals the mysterious creatures living in Merseyside gardens

Grass snake

A new survey has revealed the continued decline in sightings of some of our most familiar and favourite garden wildlife, with the RSPB calling on people across Merseyside to take up the Wild Challenge this summer to uncover the mysterious creatures living in their garden.
More than 100,000 wildlife enthusiasts around the UK, including over 2600 in Merseyside took part in the survey. Results from the county showed that hedgehogs were seen in around 60 per cent of gardens or outdoor spaces. Worryingly the spiny mammals were absent from almost a quarter of Merseyside gardens.
Moles spend most of their lives alone, digging tunnels and hunting for food only occasionally coming to the surface. They remained elusive to the majority of Merseyside gardens that recorded wildlife, with both the creatures themselves and their more familiar molehills going unseen in over 60 percent of outdoor spaces. Great crested newts also went unseen to the majority of people throughout the county, as the secretive reptile wasn’t spotted in around two-thirds of gardens.
For the second year running participants were asked to keep an eye out for foxes and stoats. The results showed that foxes were seen in over 50 per cent of Merseyside gardens that took part in the survey.
Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientists, said: “Often the wildlife we see in our garden is the first experience we have with nature – whether it’s a robin perched on the fence or a hedgehog snuffling around looking for its next meal. Unfortunately, the sights and sounds of wildlife that was once common to us are sadly becoming more mysterious to people.
“There are simple things we can all do to make our gardens perfect of wildlife. From creating a feeding station for birds or hedgehogs to digging a small pond to help amphibians, these easy activities can help turn your garden into a wildlife haven.”
With the wildlife on people’s doorsteps becoming increasingly mysterious to them, the RSPB is calling on Merseyside families to spend more time outside this summer and reconnect with the nature that surrounds them by taking on the Wild Challenge.
By completing fun and engaging activities ranging from minibeast safaris and rock pooling to creating a hedgehog cafe and planting for wildlife, families can take their first steps on their own wild adventure. There are 24 activities to choose from that will take you from your own back garden to exploring towns, cities, woodlands and even the coast.
Emma Reed, RSPB Education, Families and Youth Manager in Northern England, said:  “Studies have shown how getting outside and discovering nature is really important for children’s mental and physical well being and it also provides memorable, fun family time. Every child should have the opportunity to connect with nature so the RSPB’s Wild Challenge is a great way to take your family on a wild adventure.”
The RSPB’s ambition is for the Wild Challenge to help more families across the country reap the benefits of spending time outside in nature. Research has shown that children who have a healthy connection to nature are more likely to benefit from higher achievement at school, better mental and physical health, and develop stronger social skills.
To learn more about the RSPB Wild Challenge and to see how you can take your firsts steps on your own wildlife adventure, visit rspb.org.uk/wildchallenge

 
 
     2675 participants provided information about other wildlife that visits their garden when they took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch in Merseyside. The overall county results are:
 
2017
At least monthly %
Ever this year %
Never %
Don’t know %
Fox
24
55
32
14
Grass snake
0.2
1
77
22
Great crested newt
0.1
2
66
32
Hedgehog
23
62
22
16
Mole
14
21
62
17
Slow worm
5
8
64
28
Stag beetle
2
9
49
42
Stoat
1
6
74
20
 
     109,697 Big Garden Birdwatch participants provided information about other wildlife that visits their garden. The overall UK results are:
 
2017
At least monthly %
Ever this year %
Never %
Don’t know %
Fox
41
70
20
10
Grass snake
1
12
65
23
Great crested newt
1
5
67
29
Hedgehog
24
61
24
15
Mole
29
40
48
12
Slow worm
6
22
53
25
Stag beetle
4
21
41
38
Stoat
2
13
67
20
 
% change 2016-17
At least monthly %
Ever this year %
Never %
Don’t know %
Fox
1
-2
-2
20
Grass snake
-22
-11
-6
33
Hedgehog
-5
-4
3
13
Slow worm
-4
-8
-6
26
Stoat
6
13
-11
55
 
     The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch other wildlife survey is a partnership between the RSPB, Amphibian and Reptile Trust, The Mammal Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species.
 
   Merseyside families might like to explore the RSPB’s Burton Mere Wetlands nature reserve on the Dee Estuary. With den building, seasonal quiz trails and explorer backpacks available every day, they have plenty of opportunities for families to kick start their Wild Challenge. Visit rspb.org.uk/burtonmerewetlands for details.
 
Families might also like to explore the RSPB’s Marshside nature reserve near Southport. With a rich variety of wonderful wildlife to spot throughout the seasons, families can kick start their Wild Challenge. Visitrspb.org.uk/marshside for details.

RSPB Leighton Moss celebrates 30 years of iconic bird of prey


Marsh Harrier     David Mower

Thirty years ago this summer, RSPB Leighton Moss nature reserve in Silverdale made history.  For the first time in well over a hundred years, one of Britain’s rarest birds, the marsh harrier, returned to nest in Lancashire, choosing the reserve’s vast reed beds as its home. They have nested ever since and the site is encouraging visitors to come and witness these spectacular birds in action.
In the early 1970s just one pair of marsh harriers was known to nest in the whole of the UK but thanks to conservation efforts these spectacular birds slowly increased in number. In April 1987 a pair arrived at Leighton Moss and successfully raised three chicks at the RSPB’s flagship reserve. 
Marsh harriers are large and impressive birds of prey which usually spend the winter in Africa, returning here in the spring. It is thought that there are now around 400 pairs breeding in Britain every year. Unfortunately the recovery of marsh harriers has not been mirrored by the widely publicised decline of their close relative the hen harrier, which is perilously close to extinction as a breeding bird in England.
Since their return to Lancashire thirty years ago, marsh harriers have nested at Leighton Moss annually; raising in excess of 200 youngsters over three decades. Staff and volunteers have been keeping a close eye on the two nests at Leighton Moss this year and on 30 June they were thrilled to see the first chick taking its inaugural flight.
Over the coming weeks, the young birds will be stretching their wings and learning to hunt for themselves, so it’s the perfect time to visit Leighton Moss and Morecambe Bay nature reserve to see them. The parents are continuing to provide food for the hungry fledglings and visitors may see several harriers in the air at one time!
Jarrod Sneyd, Site Manager at RSPB Leighton Moss said “When these superb birds first nested on the reserve in 1987 we were thrilled. The success of marsh harriers at Leighton Moss over the last thirty years has been astounding and it goes to show just how valuable our precious wetlands and reed beds are to the wildlife that makes its home in these special places”.      
For the chance to see these iconic birds, pop along to the visitor centre at Leighton Moss between 9.30 am and 5 pm, where staff and volunteers will happily direct visitors to where the birds might be.
To find out more about the other amazing wildlife on the reserve and the range of events being held over the summer, visit rspb.org.uk/leightonmoss

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Time to celebrate your local meadows



Hay meadow - Andy Hay RSPB images
Date: National Meadows Day Wildflower Walk, Saturday 1 July  10 am-12 pm

National Meadows Day, dedicated to celebrating and protecting our vanishing wildflower meadows and the wealth of wildlife they support, will take place on Saturday 1 July 2017.

This year's National Meadows Day will be the biggest yet, with over 100 events taking place across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The team at RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands are inviting visitors to come along for a guided walk to admire and learn all about the rich array of wildflowers on the reserve. The event takes place on Saturday 1 July from 10 am-12 pm and includes exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the reserve’s hay meadow which boasts special flowers including yellow rattle and ragged robin.

Places are limited so advanced booking and payment is essential. The walk covers some grassland and farmland so is unsuitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, and a decent level of fitness is required.

Additionally, throughout July a self-led quiz trail will encourage families to look a little closer at the colourful plants around the reserve’s nature trails. Available daily at the visitor reception from 9.30 am-4.30 pm, free of charge.


Venue: RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands, Puddington Lane, Burton, Cheshire, CH64 5SF

Contact: For further details visit www.rspb.org.uk/burtonmerewetlands or phone the visitor reception on 0151 353 8478 or email deeestuary@rspb.org.uk