CJS Logo & link to homepage

A round up of the top countryside, conservation, wildlife and forestry stories as chosen by the CJS Team.


Scotland’s woodlands as species rich as tropical rainforest - Plantlife

New ‘Secrets of the Celtic Rainforest’ project aims to safeguard their future.

What do Octopus Suckers, Black-eyed Susan and Smokey Joe have in common? They are all rare lichens that thrive in the mild temperate climate of Scotland's Celtic Rainforest - a habitat is rarer around the globe than tropical rainforest.

Beyond Britain and Ireland, it is found mainly in the redwood forests of North America, the beech forests of southern Chile, in south-east Australia, New Zealand, Japan  and Taiwan. Internationally important, it is now the focus of a new project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Scottish Natural Heritage, to promote the forest's rare plant "gems" and safeguard their future. octopus suckers lichen, Image © Andy Acton via plantlife

The aptly named "Octopus Suckers" (Collema-fasciculare), one of the wierd and wonderful lichens found in the Celtic Rainforest. Image © Andy Acton.

But what makes Scotland's rainforest so important? The many plants and fungi that grow here... a typical ravine in Argyll, for example, has as many as 200 species of mosses and liverworts.  These species have been growing for millennia in some of the rainforests’ remotest spots. One woodland in Knapdale, Argyll, supports 25% of Britain's entire mosses and liverworts including species such as Prickly Featherwort, and rare "filmy" ferns - so called because of their translucent looking fronds.  

“Lichens, mosses and liverworts are often overlooked” explains Plantlife's Polly Phillpot: "Because these plants are so small and diverse and not, on first glance, as obvious as other species they can get forgotten. But if you look more closely, you realise just how intricate and beautiful these plants are - a rainforest in miniature." 

Sadly, the Celtic Rainforest and its internationally important plants are under threat from invasive rhododendron, which is shading out  the habitat. Plantlife is working with land managers and communities across the west coast, including families, schools and children, to put these secret gems back on the map and save this important aspect of Scotland's natural heritage.


Record breaking year for iconic bird that fronts the RSPB logo - RSPBFlock of avocets on mud, image: Andy Hay / RSPB 

It has been revealed that the avocet, a bird once close to extinction in the UK and the emblem of the RSPB, has enjoyed a record breaking year across RSPB reserves.  

Avocets were missing from the UK between 1842 and 1938

Image: Andy Hay via RSPB 

Avocets returned to RSPB Minsmere in 1947, after an absence of more than 100 years, and numbers have continued to grow across the UK. As the avocet population increases, RSPB reserves have consistently remained popular with the wading bird, with 50% of the UK’s entire population choosing them as their home thanks to innovative habitat management techniques, such as the creation of islands and nursery pools. 

Mike Clarke, RSPB’s Chief Executive, said: “Where avocets lead, nature follows. The arrival of avocets on the Suffolk coast in 1947 heralded our continuing relationship with this special place. Minsmere is now a flagship RSPB reserve, beloved by the many visitors that are drawn to the wildlife spectacle. Since avocets colonised Minsmere, they’ve been crucial for the survival of many species, including bitterns and marsh harriers, and under our care is home to a wealth of wildlife.  Avocets continue to take up residence around the country – often colonising places that we and others have created for them. They are a symbol of conservation success – and the reason they feature as the logo of the RSPB.”

This year, Minsmere celebrated what was the best breeding season for avocets in almost 30 years, with 58 chicks being successfully reared. 

With autumn now upon us, the number of wintering avocets will soon reach approximately 7,500 across the country. Poole Harbour in Dorset attracts a huge wintering colony of avocets, with numbers having risen from 25 to almost 2000 in just 30 years, now accounting for an astonishing 40% of the UK wintering population, making it the most important British wintering site. 


Police dog to help protect water vole colony - Environment Agency 

An ex police sniffer dog is being used to monitor for new colonies of water voles, as part of a reintroduction project in Hertfordshire

Stig, an English Springer Spaniel, is probably the world’s first water vole search dog. Trained as a police sniffer dog, he can cover large areas quickly and methodically, and gives his handler clear indications when water vole signs are present.

Stig will track for signs of water vole life enabling conservationists to monitor the progress of this new colony at Thorley Wash in Hertfordshire. The water voles were relocated from Fingringhoe Wick on the Essex coast by the Environment Agency, the Wildlife Trusts and project partners.

Stig the sniffer dog (Credit: Josh Kubale/Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust via Environment Agency)Stig the sniffer dog (Credit: Josh Kubale/Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust via Environment Agency)

It is hoped that the release of these water voles along with a number of captive bred water voles will see them thrive again in an area where they were once relatively common. Water vole numbers have declined to worrying levels in England due to habitat loss and the introduction of American Mink - a species not native to the UK and a voracious water vole predator.

While rivers in England are the healthiest for over 20 years, creating good quality, well-connected mink-free habitat is key to the water voles’ survival in this country. By relocating these voles it is hoped that they will soon begin to regain some of their old territory.

Alastair Driver, national conservation manager at the Environment Agency and chair of the UK’s water vole steering group, said:

It is essential that we have up-to-date information on water vole distribution because they breed prolifically, but also their populations can plummet quickly in response to floods, droughts, mink predation and habitat loss. So having the likes of Stig, who can survey inaccessible sections of riverbank, is a really important breakthrough for water vole conservation.

The latest report from the Environment Agency and The Wildlife Trusts’ Water Vole Database and Mapping Project shows that water voles continue to decline overall in England but information suggests they have recovered in some areas, such as parts of Essex, in response to long-term strategic conservation work. Up-to-date information about where water voles live is a critical part of this work and members of the public are therefore encouraged to report any water vole sightings to The Wildlife Trusts. Once verified, sightings will be added to the national water vole database.

Find out more about the national water vole database and mapping project here


Record-breaking swan arrival adds to cold winter rumours - Wildfowl & Wetlands trust

Record breaker (c) Martin McGill WWTRecord breaker (c) Martin McGill WWT

The first Bewick’s swan of autumn arrived at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire yesterday – the earliest for over 50 years – adding to speculation that we are in for a long and bitter winter.

WWT studies have shown that the weather is a major influence on when Bewick’s swans migrate from Russia, with the wind direction being a particularly crucial factor. Unusually cold weather is currently sweeping parts of western Russia and Eastern Europe. Temperatures are 5-10 degrees centigrade below average.

The low temperatures, snowfall and north easterly winds have encouraged Bewick’s swans to press on with their westwards migration through Europe. They are also currently gathering in the Netherlands, where there are 45 on Lake Gooimeer and 80 on Lake Lauwersmeer.

El Niño is underway in the tropical Pacific, prompting speculation that Europe is in for a long, cold winter. The early migration of Bewick’s swans reflects that winter certainly has kicked off earlier than usual in many countries.

WWT’s Julia Newth said: “Apparently there’s a Russian saying ‘the swan brings snow on its bill’, because they tend to move just ahead of the cold weather. Of course, we can’t infer much from the arrival of a single swan but it’s certainly exciting this bird has arrived so early. It’s only a year old and, because it’s made it all the way here on its own, we assume that it must have come to Slimbridge last year as a cygnet with its parents. We record all the Bewick’s swans that come to Slimbridge each winter by their unique bill pattern as part of our study and give them a name. This one needed a name, so we’ve called him Record Breaker.”


Pesticides have a greater impact on invertebrates than climate change, new study reports - Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

Sussex Study area (image: GWCT)Sussex Study area (image: GWCT)

A new study by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), with support from Natural England, has identified that the use of pesticides on cereal fields could be having a greater impact than previously thought and that this impact may increase in the face of climate change. The study, using over 40 years of data collected on farmland on the Sussex Downs, considers the effect on arable insects and spiders of factors including changes in extreme weather events and pesticide use.

This is one of the first studies to investigate the impact such factors have on farmland invertebrates in the UK and it is hoped that the findings will encourage the creation of new measures to mitigate the loss of these organisms. The study utilises the data collected across 100 cereal fields every year from 1970 to 2011. The full suite of data collected in Sussex includes crop management, invertebrates, plants and bird numbers, allowing a comprehensive study of the changes across more than 40 years.

Of the 26 most commonly identified invertebrate groups, 11 were found to be sensitive to extreme weather events such as hot-dry summers or cold-wet winters, although only two (gall midges Cecidomyiidae and fungus gnats Mycetophilidae) took longer than a year to recover. Longer-term trends in invertebrate abundance correlated with temperature and rainfall data obtained from the UK Met Office, consistent with an impact of climate change.

Results suggest that increasing pesticide use has had more of a direct effect on abundance of some invertebrates than temperature change, with the main driver of change in an agricultural environment being human behaviour.

Climate change will, in the long term, cause changes in certain groups of organisms, some of which are cereal pests whose abundance may increase. Any subsequent increase in the use of insecticides will negatively affect the abundance of all invertebrate groups, many of which are beneficial.

This could be mitigated through a shift in emphasis from pesticides as a means of controlling invertebrate pests to the use of conservation headlands alongside beetle banks, which also protect farmland birds, as part of an agri-environment scheme that enhances Integrated Pest Management (IPM).


Nature conservation organisations call on Government to deliver ambitious vision for nature and people – Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

An ambitious and inspirational long-term plan is urgently needed to save nature and improve our well-being – that is the clear message from the Response for Nature report published today by a coalition of leading conservation organisations.Response for Nature asks that young people’s connection to nature is restored. (Yorkshire WT)

Response for Nature asks that young people’s connection to nature is restored. (Yorkshire WT)

The Response for Nature report for England, a follow up to the 2013 State of Nature report, will be launched by naturalist, writer and TV presenter, Steve Backshall, and 26 conservation organisations at Church House in London this evening (Tuesday, 13 October), while simultaneous events will be held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, to launch reports for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Each report makes key recommendations that governments must make to help restore nature in the UK. We are losing nature at an alarming rate, so we must act now to halt and reverse this decline before it’s too late – not only for nature itself, but people too.

In 2013, scientists from 25 nature organisations worked side-by-side to compile a stock take of our native species – the first of its kind for the UK. The resulting State of Nature report revealed that 60% of the species studied had declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed were under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

In his speech at tonight’s London launch Steve Backshall will say: “The State of Nature report revealed where we are. Now we need a plan for where we should go. The Response for Nature document starts us on that long road. Let us be in no doubt that the public is behind us. An independent survey showed that 90 per cent of the UK population feel that our well-being and quality is based on nature. Action can’t be simply hived off to a single, hard-pressed department in Whitehall. It must run as a matter of course through every department, from Defra to the Treasury. Every department needs to understand that restoring nature will be a key solution to some of our most pressing social, environmental and economic problems. Every individual, from top to bottom, needs to embrace it, and act on it. To the Government, I say – please read this report, take note and act on its recommendations. Come back with the details of your 25-year plan. People and nature need you to make it a great one.”

The Response for Nature reports outlines specific asks for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help save UK nature. 


The British Deer Society publishes report on controversial lynx reintroduction – The British Deer Society

The British Deer Society (BDS) has published a comprehensive 33-page report on aspects of the possible reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx in Great Britain.  The report will inform any responses the BDS may make during the consultation phase of any future applications to release lynx into the wild. It is also hoped that the report will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal by the authors Jos Milner and Justin Irvine.

The report was commissioned by the BDS in August after it was proposed that a reintroduction of lynx could help control Britain’s burgeoning deer population. The report gathers current evidence about the lynx into one place, so an informed opinion can be formulated. John Bruce, chairman of the BDS Research Committee, explains: “There have been many differing reports on lynx in the press. This report addresses some of the main issues around the proposals and collates the evidence found in similar release programmes. Readers will come to their own conclusions about the potential for conflict and the probity of releasing Lynx.”


Multi-cultural Leadership Project Takes Off – Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority

A three-year training programme for 15 multi-cultural people from across Scotland – giving them the skills and qualifications to develop and deliver local environmental projects – has been launched in the Cairngorms National Park.

The initiative will result in the participants gaining formal qualifications as well as hands on experience in working with a range of marginalised or hard to reach communities, encouraging them to visit and benefit from the outdoors – and particularly Scotland’s National Parks – for recreation, health and enjoyment and to give them useful skills to take part in and help others volunteer for environmental projects.

The Community Leadership Project is being run by social enterprise company Backbone with support from a range of partners including the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA), the Rank Foundation, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Backbone’s Pammy Johal explained: “It’s important to build on the success of the community leadership projects that we have run over the past five years and most of the 15 participants selected to take part in this three year programme have come through that initiative. It is time now to take things to the next level, break down the barriers and effect positive change, not just for these 15 people, but also for the various communities they represent and ultimately help to remove inequalities in society.”


Rare seabird colony survives tremendous odds to breed on east Norfolk coast - RSPB

Little terns were forced to abandon their nests at their Winterton colony this summer, but went on to successfully fledge 90 chicks further up the coast, thanks to the dedication of local volunteers and team work.

This delightful chattering seabird, with its distinctive yellow beak is suffering the effects of climate change and human disturbance, resulting in it becoming one of the UK’s rarest breeding seabirds. The east coast is one of the last remaining strongholds – with 30 per cent of the national population returning to the area from West Africa each year to breed.

RSPB wardens and volunteers at Winterton beach recorded a good number of little terns arriving in April and May this year, with 60 nests established, but watched in dismay as a shortage of suitable food, bad weather and predators all played a part in causing the colony to eventually abandon the beach.

However, as the birds left Winterton, just up the coast at Eccles, the warden reported a surge in the numbers of little terns arriving at the site.

Thanks to recent funding from EU LIFE+, the RSPB and partners have been able to step up their efforts to protect coastal colonies in the east by investing in local volunteers, new staff and resources. This extra support meant the team was able to react quickly to events as they unfolded.

The Winterton volunteer team moved their 24-hour monitoring operation to Eccles to ensure the birds had the best chance of survival. Fences were put up to protect new nesting sites as they emerged, night watches ensured predators were kept away, and beach users were made aware of the presence of the nests.

Little tern warden, Danny Hercock said: “A rapid response was vital in order to at least have one successful colony. We knew that these arriving birds were the colony from Winterton and wanted to give them the best chance of survival – some were attempting to nest for the third time. “


eBird learning: new study quantifies eBirder variability and individual improvement - eBird

Ovenbird—a difficult species to detect when it isn't singing (credit: eBird)Ovenbird—a difficult species to detect when it isn't singing (credit: eBird)

The 272 million records in eBird come from more than 200,000 different individual birders. Each of us has a different birding style, different eBirding habits, different bird identification strengths by sight and sound, and a different focus when in the field (some of us are always looking up for raptors, while others watch for sparrows underfoot.) Some sources of variation in detection—from variation in effort, habitat, date, and time of day—are already accounted for in our analyses. However, until now our analyses have not accounted for the one of the greatest sources of variation: the birder. We recently devised a metric for quantifying differences among birders, and a newly-published paper describes the use of the method, as well as showing that with more time spent birding, as measured by the number of eBird checklists a birder enters, the more proficient they become. 


New evidence-based report on sustainability of Scottish moorlands - Moorland Association

Scottish Land & Estates and GWCT have welcomed a new report by Scottish Natural Heritage that reviews sustainable moorland management.

The report, which has received input from a wide range of industry stakeholders, provides an authoritative examination of four key issues:

  • the development of a shared vision for Scotland’s moorland
  • efforts to avoid moorland deterioration
  • the need to plug evidence gaps through the development of a moorland habitat map
  • developing management and stewardship systems across all areas of moorland management

Tim Baynes, Director of the Scottish Moorland Group, which is part of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “This report adds to the growing body of analysis that highlights the importance of moorland management. The report recognises the outstanding work of land managers and gamekeepers, and the defining role of management in shaping the exceptional environmental importance of these moorland areas. Ten recommendations are provided within the review and we will work with Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to deliver consensus on these issues. It is clear that Scottish Natural Heritage are determined to keep striving for best practice and through the Wildlife Estates Scotland scheme – which is recognised in the report – it is clear that much can be achieved by estates working towards accreditation.”

Amanda Anderson, Director of the Moorland Association said: “Defining ‘sustainability’ is one of the hardest jobs we face in the conservation world. While we strive to deliver the ‘best’ environment we can for the benefit of all through for example clean water, recreation and rich biodiversity, there are inevitably trade-offs with the equally important socio-economics of land use. We live on a tiny and crowded island where every square inch is under conflicting pressure. The trick is to find that middle ground of what ‘good’ looks like and deliver the best we can for everything. Clearly, that will sometimes involve reaching a compromise.”


Find out more and download the report: A very rich variety - SNH

Scotland's mountains, moors, hills and heaths cover more than 50% of the land area. They extend from near sea level in the north and west to our highest tops.

We've produced a report  on sustainable moorland management, including a response from our Chairman The report was requested by the SNH Board and produced by a sub-group of our Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) in October 2015. The report was requested in response to concerns of Board members about intensified moorland management practices in some areas, including the spread of hill tracks, increase in muirburn, heavy culling of mountain hares, and using chemicals to dose red grouse to increase numbers of grouse for shooting.


Lake District - Yorkshire Dales National Parks Extensions: Two year wait for an announcement and the delay continues  - Campaign for National Parks

Campaigners battling to secure extensions to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks have now been waiting for two years for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to make a decision on the Planning Inspector’s report.
Details received through a recent Freedom of Information request show that the Planning Inspector submitted his report to the then Environment Secretary Owen Paterson on 15 October 2013 following the June Public Inquiry
Parliamentary questions have also revealed that the estimated costs to Natural England since 2009 were almost £500,000. This includes the costs of extensive technical assessments of the areas concerned and the production of detailed reports, public and statutory consultations, printing costs and costs to Natural England of the public inquiry.
Defra has also incurred costs to date of £122,360 which includes Planning Inspectorate costs, the cost of an inquiry manager, notice of the inquiry and the costs of venues for the inquiry. No staff costs for either Natural England or Defra have been taken into account.
The second year anniversary comes as National Park Authorities meet for their biennual conference in Dartmoor National Park (14-16 October) to discuss key issues such as the future of National Parks, forging closer links with business and the potential role of Parks in relation to rewildling.
Fiona Howie, Campaign for National Parks Chief Executive, said she was extremely frustrated by the ongoing delay, which made little sense as National Parks contributed massively to the quality of live and economic prosperity of the region: “Landscapes and cultural heritage are among the greatest assets of both Yorkshire and Cumbria, bringing millions of visitors to Britain. There is considerable public support for the extensions and the evidence was clear that the areas being considered should become part of the National Parks. The Government must take positive action and confirm that these beautiful and important areas are designated.”


Demonstration farms setting the path for farmland bird recovery - RSPB

Male yellowhammer singing. Image: Steve Round / RSPBResearch highlights the role that wildlife-friendly farming can play in reversing declines of threatened species like the yellowhammer (Image: Steve Round via RSPB)

Some bird species reliant on agricultural landscapes, including iconic songbirds, such as skylark, and yellowhammer, have been declining sharply since the 1970s – coinciding with a period of rapid and intense agricultural change.

With many species of farmland bird losing more than half of their UK breeding pairs over this time, extreme concerns have been raised about these birds’ futures. Both the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) and the RSPB have conducted a wealth of peer-reviewed research into the causes of the declines and their management solutions.

A new study by the GWCT and the RSPB has revealed that implementing such management solutions has brought about the rapid recovery of a broad range of songbirds at each charity’s demonstration farm (in Leicestershire and Cambridgeshire, respectively).

Providing safe nesting sites and access to food has allowed farmland bird numbers to double or even treble over just five to 10 years.  The recovery in bird abundance at these sites has been in stark contrast to the continuing declines seen in the surrounding countryside. This suggests that a wider roll out of wildlife-friendly farming measures should lead to a recovery in farmland birds in the wider countryside.

At the Leicestershire site, where predators occurred at a high density, the recovery of species such as thrushes and finches – which make open ‘cup-like’ nests - required predator management as well as habitat improvement in order to boost numbers. In comparison, at the Cambridgeshire site, where the density of predators was low, farmland bird recovery was achieved solely by habitat management. Predator density is probably a function of landscape type, being wooded with mixed farmland in Leicestershire, but open, flat and mainly arable in Cambridgeshire.

Previous studies have found no evidence that crows and magpies limit songbird numbers across the UK as whole, but that they may do so locally. So further research is needed to understand how typical the Leicestershire and Cambridgeshire situations are compared to the rest of the country.

The study was completed at two farms, 42 miles apart in eastern England: GWCT’s 292-hectare Loddington Farm, in Leicestershire; and the RSPB’s 181-hectare Hope Farm, in Cambridgeshire. 

Access the paper: Aebischer, N. J., Bailey, C. M., Gibbonds, D. W., Morris, A. J., Peach, W. J. & Stoate, C. (2015) Twenty years of local farmland bird conservation: the effects of management on avian abundance at two UK demonstration sites. Bird Study DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2015.1090391


Buff-tailed Bumblebee Voted Favourite UK Insect - Royal Society of Biology

The buff-tailed bumblebee has been crowned the Favourite UK Insect after winning a public poll of almost 7,500 votes run by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB).

Buff-tailed Bumblebee image:Jonas Myrenas via Royal Society of BiologyBuff-tailed Bumblebee image:Jonas Myrenas via Royal Society of Biology

Announced as part of Biology Week, the buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, is most certainly ‘queen bee’, securing victory with over 40% of the votes, a convincing majority of 3,033.

Dr Rebecca Nesbit MRSB, entomologist and member of the Royal Society of Biology said: “Seeing bumblebees buzzing around flowers in our gardens is a highlight of the British summer. I find it fascinating to watch them hard at work collecting pollen and nectar to keep their colony alive and thriving, and it’s great to know that so many people agree! We’re also acutely aware of the services which insects, and bees in particular, provide for us. Many crops and wild flowers alike depend on bumblebees for pollination. They contribute to our economy, our countryside and the food we eat.”

The buff-tailed bumblebee beat nine other contenders to claim the title:
1st         Buff-tailed bumblebee (40.5%, 3,033 votes)
2nd        Seven-spot ladybird (15.2%, 1139 votes)
3rd         Emperor dragonfly (14.5%, 1084 votes)
4th         Small tortoiseshell butterfly (9%, 674 votes)
5th         Stag beetle (6.5%, 487 votes)
6th         Marmalade hoverfly (5%, 373 votes)
7th         Green shieldbug (2.8%, 209 votes)
8th         Garden tiger moth (2.7%, 201 votes)
9th         Black garden ant (2%, 153 votes)
10th       Large bee-fly (1.8%, 131 votes)

There are over 20,000 insect species in the UK but numbers are declining. The RSB poll was launched to encourage people to give UK insects the appreciation they deserve. Ecologists developed a shortlist of 10 of their favourite UK species and the poll was open to the public online in August and September 2015.


Hen harriers tagged in landmark project - RSPB

By satellite-tagging hen harriers we will have a more detailed understanding of the movements of these birds and where they are most at risk

Female hen harrier flying low, Image: Graham Catley/RSPBImage: Graham Catley, RSPB

Hen harriers, one of our rarest and most threatened birds of prey, are being tracked via satellite tags as part of the RSPB’s Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, to protect them and gain better understanding of the threats they face, as well as identify the places they are most at risk.

The satellite tags transmit the locations of the harriers on a regular basis, and members of the public will be able to follow the movements of two individuals on a new website launched today. For security reasons the information available online will be displayed with a two week delay.

 “Holly”, the first female harrier, had her satellite tag fitted in June this year by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group, assisted by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Police, and was one of three chicks from a nest located on high security MOD land at Coulport. She was named after a member of the production crew from BBC Scotland’s Landward programme, after appearing in a special feature about hen harriers and the threats these birds face from illegal killing. Holly fledged in August and has since left her nest area, and is currently in the uplands of central Scotland.

“Chance” is the second female hen harrier, named by RSPB Scotland, who was tagged in June last year by members of the Scottish Raptor Study Group. Chance has provided a wonderful example of how young birds spend their first year. She travelled south from her nest in south west Scotland to the RSPB Wallasea reserve in Essex at the end of October (2014), before crossing the Channel to spend the winter months in the Pays de la Loire region of western France. Chance came back to the UK in spring this year and is currently back in France.

Bea Ayling, manager of the Hen Harrier LIFE+ Project, said: “Hen harriers declined by almost 20% in the UK and Isle of Man between 2004 and 2010 so urgent action is needed to help conserve this species. By fitting satellite tags to harriers we can track them accurately to see where they go and find out which areas they’re getting into trouble. We can also gain valuable information on breeding sites, nest locations and, should the worst happen, be able to locate and recover the bodies of dead harriers far more easily. The timely recovery of dead birds may also assist the police and prosecutors in bringing the perpetrators of crimes to justice.”


Scientific publications

Heward, C. J., Hoodless, A. N., Conway. G. J., Aebischer, N. J., Gillings, C. & Fuller, R. J. (2015) Current status and recent trend of the Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola as a breeding bird in Britain Bird Study. DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2015.1092497


Cina, A., Hinde, C. A. & Sheldon, B. C. (2015) Carry-over effects of the social environment on future divorce probability in a wild bird population. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0920


Nedelc, S. L., Simpson, S. D., Morley, E. L., Nedelec, B. & Radford, A. N. (2015) Impacts of regular and random noise on the behaviour, growth and development of larval Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua). Proceedings of the Royal Society B. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.1943 Proceedings of the Royal Society B


Wotton ,S. R., Eaton, M., Ewing, S. R. & Green, R. E. (2015) The increase in the Corncrake Crex crex population of the United Kingdom has slowed. Bird Study. DOI: 10.1080/00063657.2015.1089837


CJS is not responsible for content of external sites.  Details believed correct but given without prejudice.

Disclaimer: the views expressed in these news pages do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CJS.