2008-01-27 10:12:35 UTC
In light of recent press coverage exposing the RSPB shooting fiasco
Is it any wonder we see the following?
Jan 10, 2008
LONDON (AFP) One of Britain's rarest birds has seen a drastic
decline in its population over the last 12 years, a new survey has
A joint survey by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds,
Scottish Natural Heritage and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust from has
shown a 45 percent decline in common scoters -- a plump, jet black
diving ducks with long tails.
The survey was carried out between late April and early June -- when
male birds visit the breeding lochs -- and showed there are now just
52 pairs in freshwater lochs across northern Scotland: a drastic
decline for the only duck to be listed as a priority species on the
internationally recognized Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).
Mark Eaton -- the RSPB research biologist who led the survey -- said:
"A decline of this nature highlights precisely the gravity of the
situation facing common scoters in the UK right now.
"For this to have occurred in such a short time period is rare and of
great concern," he said.
The RSPB believes climate change might have contributed to their
decline as the warmer temperatures appear to have pushed the birds
away from their natural habitats in Northern Ireland and southern
Some conservationists are still unsure if the introduction of
predatory pike in some Scottish lochs, where scoters used to breed has
led to a higher chick mortality rate.
Others have blamed the decline on poor forestry which has altered the
water chemistry in freshwater lochs. They believe the change in water
has precipitated a shift in invertebrates -- the scoters natural diet.
"We really need to get out and conduct more research over the coming
years to firmly establish the causal factors that have driven this
reduction in the breeding population so we can stop it," said Eaton.
"We can then put together conservation measures and management schemes
that will hopefully ensure that the common scoter can flourish in UK
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust spokesman Peter Cranswick said: "These new
results clearly demonstrate that urgent action is needed to avoid the
same fate befalling the remaining birds in Britain."