Sharp decline in upland birds in Wales

Ornithologists in Wales have expressed shock at the findings of a range of independent surveys carried out across Wales in the last two years that reveal massive declines in the numbers of many upland birds. Species in serious decline include many of the iconic species that define our uplands including curlew Numenius arquata, golden plover Pluvialis apricaria, chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax, peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus and ring ouzel Turdus torquatus. If the current trends continue these species may be extinct in the Welsh hills before too long. Surveys undertaken by independent consultancy Ecology Matters reveal that on The Plynlimon range in mid Wales numbers of golden plover have declined by 92% since 1984 with only one pair remaining; red grouse Lagopus lagopus scotica have declined by 48% and four species - teal Anas crecca, peregrine, ring ouzel and black headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus are now extinct in this area. Initial results of surveys being undertaken by the Welsh Kite Trust are showing declines of peregrines at inland sites across Wales. Where birds are hanging on breeding productivity has declined drastically. An independent long - term study of chough by the Cross & Stratford Welsh Chough Project has documented long-term declines at inland breeding and feeding sites.

Mick Green, of Ecology Matters, said "Although I was aware of declines I was shocked at the scale revealed once we carried out proper surveys. That the declines on The Plynlimon are on a designated site that is meant to be protected is especially worrying - if declines like these are found on protected sites what hope is there in the wider countryside?" Tony Cross of the Welsh Kite Trust added "It is worrying that the recovery of the peregrine we witnessed at the end of the last century now seems to have been reversed and absolutely tragic that many of the upland slate quarries and mine workings that once rang with the enigmatic call of the chough are now silent - we urgently need to find the reasons for these trends so that we can act now to counteract them".

Source: Wildlife Extra News, Jun 2012
Iolo Williams tells the BTO about the decline of the Ring Ouzel: