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


How much do you really know about your UK mammals? – Mammal Society

The Mammal Society announces National Mammal Week 2016

Mammals are some of our most charismatic and well known animals in the UK, yet they are also some of our most under recorded species. Many of our mammals are unique, for example our Scottish wildcat and grey seal, both of which are rarer than African elephants and found almost nowhere else in the world.

The Mammal Society’s National Mammal Week is from the 22nd-30th October 2016.  It aims to celebrate our UK mammals and encourage mammal conservation.

There are many ways to get involved with National Mammal Week:

  • When did you last see a hedgehog?
  • Go to a local mammal group event.
  • Record mammals from home
  • Enter the Amateur Mammal Photographer of the Year Competition.
  • Vote in the UK’s Favourite Mammal Poll.

Discover more about our mammals. Visit www.mammal.org.uk/national-mammal-week for more ways to get involved in National Mammal Week and learn about our UK mammals, or follow the Mammal Society on Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtags #nationalmammals or #mammalweek.

 Hedgehog (image: Ben Andrew, Mammal Society)

Help the Mammal Society’s Annual Hedgehog Watch

Winter is nearly here and it’s time for hedgehogs to hibernate.  But how have they fared this year?  As part of National Mammal Week, the Mammal Society is appealing to the public to help with a new survey that will review how many hedgehogs – dead or alive – have been spotted this year. 

Hedgehog (image: Ben Andrew, Mammal Society)

Fiona Mathews, Chair of the Mammal Society and Associate Professor at the University of Exeter says “Hedgehogs are one of our most appealing animals.  Sadly, they seem to be in long-term decline, and we are still not sure of the cause.  In fact they are so scarce in many parts of the country, that people can remember exactly how many they have seen and where they were at the time. This is critical information that will help us to understand what we can do to help.”  

Laura Kubasiewicz, the Mammal Society’s Science officer adds “It is really important that people who have seen no hedgehogs at all also take part: this will let us identify areas that have a real conservation problem, and in the future will allow us to monitor whether strategies to get hedgehogs back are working”.

Take part in the survey here. 

For more surveys and organsations asking for you record your sightings please see our Surveys and Fieldwork section.


Scotland’s forests grow: £6.5 million scheme boosts planting rate - Scottish Government

Plans to plant 1200 hectares of new woodland across Scotland have been backed with £6.5 million in funding.
At over twice the amount awarded in any previous month, this is the highest level of funding awarded since the Scotland’s Forestry Grant Scheme was set up in 2015, as land owners prepare for spring planting in 2017.  The new woodland - which is equivalent to 1200 times the size of the international rugby pitch at Murrayfield in Edinburgh - reflects the Scottish Government’s commitment to boosting the planting rate in the forestry sector. Projects range from a large native woodland scheme in Knoydart, to productive, sustainable conifer schemes in Perthshire, Argyll and the border hills.
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Fergus Ewing made the announcement at the Scottish Government’s second forestry summit, held in Boat of Garten, near Aviemore. He said: “Today’s forestry event in Boat of Garten is about listening to the industry as part of my focus on building growth in our rural economy. This is an important moment for the £1 billion forestry sector in Scotland as we have recently launched a consultation on plans to complete its devolution. This will safeguard the future of one of Scotland’s most precious assets, which supports at least 25,000 jobs and plays a pivotal role in tackling climate change among many other benefits.  To generate further growth we need to get more trees in the ground. This latest grant funding is a significant government investment towards this goal, and I am pleased to see that the rate of new planting proposals has increased, though funding is, of course, only part of the story.  We want to speed up and streamline approval processes for sustainable planting schemes. New woodland creation will help strengthen forestry’s contribution to our rural economy as well as helping to meet our climate change targets.”


National Grid reveals extensive measures to reduce impact of £2.8bn Cumbrian connection – National Grid 

National Grid proposing to put lines underground and under Morecambe Bay to protect the Lake District National Park. 

New connection needed to link the planned Moorside nuclear power station in Cumbria into electricity network

Extensive measures proposed to reduce the impact of what will be the biggest new power line project since electricity network was built. Company proposing to put lines underground and under Morecambe Bay to protect the Lake District National Park Over a quarter of the connection could be underground

Ten weeks of consultation from 28 October 2016 until 6 January 2017

National Grid has unveiled its detailed proposals for the £2.8bn project to connect the proposed nuclear power station at Moorside in Cumbria into the electricity network, ahead of starting consultation on Friday 28 October. The company is proposing extensive measures to reduce the impact of the project on the landscape of Cumbria while balancing this with the need to keep energy bills affordable. It has today announced plans to look at putting 23.4km (14.5 miles) of new line underground through the entire western section of the Lake District National Park. This could see the existing lines there being removed completely, leaving this part of the park free of pylons for the first time in 50 years. This is in addition to: - putting cables through a tunnel measuring approx. 22km (13 miles) under Morecambe Bay to avoid the south part of the national park at a cost of £1.2bn - removing many of the existing pylons owned by Electricity North West (ENW) and replacing them with fewer, taller pylons of its own operating at a greater voltage - replacing the low voltage line in the area around the Hadrian’s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site with underground cables Consultation on the proposals starts on Friday 28 October and nearly 90,000 newsletters have been mailed to homes and businesses along to route to explain how people can take part.


Response: Lake district power line to go underground - CPRE

Douglas Chalmers, Chief Executive at Friends of the Lake District said: “We have fought a long and well-supported campaign to stop these giant pylons being built within the Lake District National Park and we’re delighted that the stunning landscape within the park has been spared from a line of 50 metre tall pylons. National Grid should be congratulated for listening to public opinion and respecting the designation of national park status which affords the Lake District landscape the highest level of protection in the UK.”

Kim Hagen, Senior Energy Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “It's brilliant news that National Grid proposes to underground all of the planned cables through the National Park. This would be a great victory for one of our most cherished landscapes. It would mean the character and beauty of the Lake District is protected for generations to come. Let's hope this sets new standards for the future.”

 National Grid is still proposing to erect pylons along a 14 km section of the southern route running close to the national park boundary which has raised some significant concerns about their impact on some additional parts of the west coast that do not enjoy the protection afforded by national park status, but contribute to the setting of the Lake District’s landscapes.


Your say on protection for Solway marine birds – Scottish Natural Heritage

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Natural England are inviting views on proposals to protect important areas for marine birds in the Solway Firth.

A formal public consultation launched today (Tuesday 25) by SNH on behalf of Scottish Government is asking people to comment on a proposed Special Protection Area (pSPA) in the UK’s third largest estuary.

SNH and Natural England have worked closely together to develop the proposals that will benefit a wide range of marine birds at the site, which straddles the Scottish/English border on the west coast.

The proposals involve extending the boundary of the existing Upper Solway Flats & Marshes SPA, to protect internationally important populations of red-throated diver, common scoter and goosander, which return to Scotland each year to spend the winter in the Solway.


Small, perfectly formed and causing great excitement - Northumberland Wildlife Trust

© Steve LoweA small snail, usually found in the Mediterranean region, has been recorded at Cresswell on Druridge Bay and causing great excitement at Northumberland Wildlife Trust.

© Steve Lowe

Up until now, the Mediterranean coastal snails commonly referred to as Theba pisana have only been recorded in a number of sand dune systems in northern Cornwall and South Wales.

However, they have now been discovered in this region, 100 metres away from the Drift Café in Cresswell, by a mollusc expert on holiday from Lancashire, who went away and researched it before contacting the wildlife charity, which has five reserves along Druridge Bay, including Creswell Pond and Cresswell shore.

In Britain and France, the snail has an annual life cycle, breeding in summer and autumn, whilst in the Mediterranean; it has a biennial life cycle with breeding in autumn and winter. It is very frost-sensitive, so conservationists were very surprised to find them surviving the cold Northumberland winter and think they may have been in the area for some time, possibly avoiding frost damage by burying into sand.

Upon further investigation it became apparent that this animal may have been recorded previously, possibly over 100 years ago, but the report of that appears to be lost in the mists of time; additionally, the list of species records in Northumberland was found to be sparse.


Government decides on new runway at Heathrow – Department for Transport

  • expanding Heathrow will better connect the UK to long haul destinations in growing world markets, boosting trade and creating jobs
  • passengers will benefit from more choice of airlines, destinations and flights
  • expansion at Heathrow will be subject to a world class package of compensation and mitigation measures for local communities

In a major boost for the UK economy the government today (25 October 2016) announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow – the first full length runway in the south-east since the second world war. The scheme will now be taken forward in the form of a draft ‘National policy statement’ (NPS) for consultation.


Reaction: Third runway at Heathrow will have impacts for Berks & Bucks wildlife, says BBOWT

The Berks, Bucks & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust is deeply concerned about the impacts for wildlife of the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport, following the announcement today of a third runway at Heathrow, and calls for a world class approach to dealing with the impacts on nature.

Shoveller, one of many species of duck that overwinters on the lakes west of Heathrow. Pic Roy McDonaldShoveller, one of many species of duck that overwinters on the lakes west of Heathrow. Pic Roy McDonald

Most of the land required for the new runway will be within London. However, there will be significant direct and indirect effects for wildlife in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire as a result of the proposed expansion.

The full extent of the impacts aren’t clear from the announcement, because details about the redesign of the M25 are yet to be finalised.

The M25 will have to be either tunnelled or diverted, as the new runway will cross its existing path. Key concerns are the impact on internationally important populations of wildfowl, and the effects of air pollution and recreational pressure on sensitive wildlife sites.

Matt Jackson, Head of Conservation Policy & Strategy for BBOWT said: “The Government’s policy is that they want this generation to be the first to leave the natural environment of England in a better state than it inherited. But, if today's decision to expand Heathrow with a third runway becomes a reality, the impacts on the natural environment will be massive. Air quality, carbon emissions and noise have been the headline issues, and all of those cause problems for wildlife as well as people. The permanent loss of habitat for internationally important populations of birds, as well as the impact of infrastructure that will come to areas around Heathrow, will need to be addressed for the Government to avoid undermining its own policy."


Reaction: Heathrow expansion threatens our health, our wellbeing and our wildlife – London Wildlife Trust

London Wildlife Trust has warned that the disappointing, but unsurprising, decision to proceed with a third runway at Heathrow Airport will pose a huge threat to the natural environment.

Most of the land required for the new runway will be within Greater London and there will be significant direct and indirect effects for nature and wildlife as a result of the proposed expansion. 

A number of wildlife sites are impacted under the proposed expansion, potentially resulting in the loss of or damage to over 60 hectares of woodland and 12km of river habitats. In addition, the impact on internationally important populations of wildfowl at nearby waterbodies, and the effects of air pollution and noise on sensitive wildlife sites, such as along the River Colne, will be profound.

Mathew Frith, director of conservation at London Wildlife Trust said: “Progress is not measured in air miles. It is measured in public health and wellbeing, in cleaner air and water, and action to protect and promote the quality of our natural environment. This retrograde decision rewards shareholders but shows complete disregard for the wildlife and natural environment in and around Heathrow. It also snubs future generations who will suffer from the detrimental effects of air pollution, carbon emissions and noise.”

The proposed expansion at Heathrow has yet to take full account of the likely impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitats, although the Trust expects these to be considerable.


Climate change driving toad disease from fungus in Pyrenees – Imperial College London

image: © Imperial College Londonimage: © Imperial College London

Researchers quantify effect of global warming on fungal disease in frogs and toads for the first time.

At high altitudes, frogs and toads are being infected by a deadly chytrid fungus at increasingly high rates in the Pyrenees Aspe Valley, France. The spike in mortality of these toads is blamed on warming in these mountains, which drives fungal infection in frogs and toads, and is expected to get worse.

Following years of speculation that climate change was driving deaths by chytrid, this eight-year study by researchers at Imperial College London and ZSL (Zoological Society of London), published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, is the first to compare temperature with amounts of disease in order to infer future patterns at high altitudes. The fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has severely affected over 700 amphibian species worldwide causing more extinction events than any other infectious disease known to science.

From analysing lake melt and amphibian infection rates over eight years, the researchers found that the earlier that the valley’s lakes melted in the springtime, the higher were the rates of infection for both frogs and toads.

Read the paper here: Clare, F. C. et al (2016) Climate forcing of an emerging pathogenic fungus across a montane multi-host community Published 24 October 2016 as part of a Special Issue on Emerging Fungal Threats in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B


New protected marine areas announced – Scottish Government

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham will today (26 October) designate two new Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) around the Fair Isle and in the Firth of Clyde. The announcement will be made at the Marine Conservation Society Annual Conference in Edinburgh.
• The Fair Isle Demonstration and Research (D&R) MPA will give local communities opportunities to develop new or improved forms of marine management to protect seabirds and promote ecotourism.

• The Wreck of Iona I Historic MPA (HMPA) will preserve the wreck of a 19th century paddle steamer, Iona I, which was built in 1862 for use in the American Civil War, but sank shortly after launch in the Firth of Clyde.

The Fair Isle D&R MPA demonstrates a community-led approach to marine environment sustainability, which was overwhelmingly supported by local communities and presents opportunities for increased recreation, tourism, research and education.

The wreck of Iona I is the well-preserved sunken Clydebuilt 19th-century paddle steamer and a site of national importance. Operating on the Clyde as a passenger vessel, it was then purchased by Confederate agents to run the blockade of Southern ports during the American Civil War.

As one of very few surviving paddle steamer wrecks, Iona I makes a significant contribution to the cultural landscape of the Clyde basin and our understanding of Clyde paddle steamers and Scotland’s role in the American Civil War.

Ms Cunningham said: “I am pleased to confirm the designation of these new Marine Protection Areas and I would like to thank all those who contributed to the consultation. Scotland’s seas have played and continue to play a valuable cultural and economic roles. Not only are they fundamental to our way of life, they are habitats for a huge diversity of marine and wildlife. It is our duty to protect these rich areas and historical sites while ensuring they benefit local communities. These MPAs will help protect and enhance our marine environment so it remains a prized asset for future generations.”


Response:  Marine protections positive for Fair Isle’s future – National Trust for Scotland

Scotland’s largest conservation charity, the National Trust for Scotland has welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement that a Marine Protection Area (MPA) is to be established in the waters around Fair Isle.

On 26 October, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham confirmed that a community-led Fair Isle Demonstration and Research MPA will be established in order to enable development of new or improved forms of marine management to protect seabirds and promote ecotourism.

Fair Isle, which is 24 miles from Shetland, is the most remote inhabited island in the UK and has been owned by the National Trust for Scotland since 1954. The Trust has been supporting the islanders’ efforts to have the MPA established since 1995 as it ensures the charity’s key objectives of conserving Fair Isle’s internationally important seabird colony and the marine habitats that underpin it, with resulting economic benefits for the human community.

The Trust acquired Fair Isle from George Waterston, founder of the island’s permanent bird observatory, which was located there because of its unique importance as a bird migration watchpoint. As well as the migrants, the island supports one of the most important seabird colonies in Europe, hosting species such as such as Atlantic Puffin, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, and Arctic Tern, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Northern Gannet, Black-legged Kittiwake and Northern Fulmar.  The marine environment is vital to the wellbeing of these seabirds and the MPA is a significant step forward.

The residents of Fair Isle make a living through crofting, traditional crafts such as boat-building, spinning, weaving and, of course, knitting – the internationally famous Fair Isle jumpers originated here.  In recent times, islanders have increasingly benefited from eco-tourism and hence protection of marine and island environments is equally important to people as it is to wildlife.


People's Postcode Lottery supports new schools' project to celebrate local nature – RSPB Scotland

Free school sessions begin this autumn to introduce local children to some of the wonderful wildlife living on their doorsteps

An exciting new project has been launched today by RSPB Scotland, giving pupils from Perth & Kinross, Dundee, Fife and Angus the opportunity to learn about Scotland’s threatened wildlife and the nature that lives near them.

RSPB Scotland has received nearly £20,000 thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The funding boost from Postcode Local Trust will enable RSPB Scotland to take local primary schools to beautiful locations around the Tay Estuary to learn about the inspiring return of white-tailed eagles.

Sara Rasmussen, RSPB Scotland Community Outreach Officer said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for local children to learn first-hand about white-tailed eagles and other wonderful wildlife that lives on our doorstep. The return of these iconic birds is a great way to engage children in discovering and connecting to their local wildlife and inspire them to become future guardians of the natural world. We are really grateful for all the support from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery that has made this possible.”


New action plan to tackle fly-tipping launches – Keep Britain Tidy

Reaching the Tipping Point: our action plan for fly-tipping is launched at the Tidy Britain All-Party Parliamentary Group. The launch comes as we reveal the results of two new surveys that show the true scale of the problem.

In the first of two surveys, we found out that 70% of local authorities say fly-tipping is a major problem, while a separate Ipsos MORI survey shows that over a third of people (36%) said they thought it was OK to do things that are legally defined as fly-tipping. 

The growing cost of clearing up unsightly fly-tipped rubbish is putting pressure on local authorities that are already struggling with funding problems.

53% of local authorities who said fly-tipping was a major problem think that changes – including the increase of bulky waste charges and closing recycling centres - have contributed to the problem.

Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton said: “We know that local authorities are at their wits’ end trying to tackle the growing crisis of dumped rubbish and our surveys show that there is a real challenge here to educate the public that not only is it not OK to fly-tip, it is illegal and can result in a substantial fine for householders and a criminal record.”

The Ipsos MORI nationwide survey of 1,133 people in England aged 18+ revealed that 47% of people don’t know that they’re responsible in law if their waste is fly-tipped by a third party and 36% of people think it is acceptable to get rid of an unwanted sofa or mattress in a way that is, legally, classed as fly-tipping. The latest figures for fly–tipping show that there were more than 900,000 reported fly-tipping incidents in 2014/15 and fly-tipping is costing local councils in excess of £50million a year to deal with.

We have launched an action plan to tackle the blight of fly-tipping, aimed at working in partnership with local authorities and their contractors to raise awareness with the public and help them drive home the message that if residents and businesses want cleaner communities, they need to understand that they have a legal duty of care.

Download the report Reaching the Tipping Point: our action plan for fly-tipping (PDF)


Fly-tipping results in closure of nature reserve car park – Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has been forced to close the car park of its Broad Colney Lakes Nature Reserve due to repeated fly-tipping.

Fly-tipping at Broad Colney Lakes (image: HMWT)Fly-tipping at Broad Colney Lakes (image: HMWT)

The car park at Broad Colney Lakes, to the South of London Colney near St Albans, will be locked from 1st November, following a large number of fly-tipping incidences at the reserve. The reserve will still be accessible on foot, but cars will no longer be able to park on site.
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, who run the nature reserve, took the decision to close the car park following the most recent fly-tipping incident which saw a motor scooter dumped in one of the lakes. The Trust is working with local police and has reported all fly-tipping instances.
The Trust’s Reserves Officer, Rob Hopkins, said: “It’s a great shame that we have had to take this course of action but illegal dumping at Broad Colney Lakes is an increasing problem. At present we can’t see any other course of action that would improve the situation. We want this nature reserve to be a haven for wildlife and a place that people enjoy visiting but the persistent fly-tipping is making this very difficult”.


Landmark report shows global wildlife populations on course to decline by 67 percent by 2020 - WWF and Zoological Society of London

WWF calls on governments to fast-track action on conservation, climate change and sustainable development

New data released by WWF and ZSL (Zoological Society of London) today reveals that overall global vertebrate populations are on course to decline by an average of 67 per cent from 1970 levels by the end of this decade, unless urgent action is taken to reduce humanity’s impact on species and ecosystems.

Global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have already declined by 58 per cent on average since 1970.  This is an average annual decline of two per cent, with no sign yet that this rate will decrease.  Populations that have been impacted by human activity include those of African elephants in Tanzania, maned wolves in Brazil, hellbender salamanders in the USA, leatherback turtles in the tropical Atlantic, orcas in European waters and European eels in UK rivers.

The Living Planet Report 2016 is the world’s most comprehensive survey to date of the health of our planet. It highlights how human activities including deforestation, pollution, overfishing and the illegal wildlife trade, coupled with climate change, are pushing species populations to the edge as people overpower the planet for the first time in Earth’s history. However, widespread ratification of the Paris agreement on climate change, new restrictions on the international trade in threatened species including pangolins and African grey parrots, and conservation measures that are leading to increases in global tiger and panda populations indicate that solutions are possible.

Orca in the North Sea (image: WWF)Orca in the North Sea (image: WWF)

Orca populations in European waters are under threat from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Despite legislative restrictions on their use, these pollutants are still present in orcas’ blubber at levels that exceed all known marine mammal toxicity thresholds.

The European eel is declining due to disease, overfishing and changes to its freshwater habitat that impede its migration to the sea to breed.

Conservation measures including the preservation of habitat and strict controls on hunting have led to population increases in Europe for the brown bear, grey wolf and Eurasian lynx. Populations have increased by 108 per cent since 1960, 303 per cent since 1970 and 495 per cent since 1963 respectively.

Read the data and access the report.  


Unlocking the River Severn for people and wildlife - Environment Agency and Natural England

Funding announced for major new wildlife project to reopen the River Severn for fish and wildlife. 

A major new wildlife project to reopen the mighty River Severn has secured almost £20 million of funding – £10.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £6 million from the European Union LIFE programme.

The scheme will re-open the mighty River Severn and its major tributary for fish and wildlife whilst reconnecting millions of people and local communities with the lost natural, cultural and industrial heritage of this magical river.

This is the largest project of its kind ever attempted in Europe and will reopen the UK’s longest river to all fish species, many of which became extinct in the upper reaches following the installation of weirs required to power the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. The work will remove blockages and secure the long-term future of many of the UK’s declining and protected fish species by substantially increasing access to important spawning grounds.

The project was developed as part of a 3 year long collaborative partnership between the Severn Rivers Trust, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency and Natural England.

Today, more than 6 million people live within close proximity of the River Severn, and the project will build upon the wide economic and social benefits to local communities the river brings.

In reconnecting people with the river, the project will raise awareness of the value of UK rivers, not only for enhancing biodiversity, tourism and fishing, but ensuring the River Severn system is protected for our future generations to enjoy as part of our natural and historic heritage, and an important piece of what made Britain the economic powerhouse it is today.

Work to install the first of seven state-of-the-art fish passes will begin in 2017, and the project will take approximately 5 years to complete.


Unlocking the River Severn: a major new project to benefit people and wildlife – Natural England blog

Lynne Farquhar, a Conservation Advisor at Natural England, tells us about a major new project that will help secure the long-term future of many of the UK’s declining protected fish - including the rare shad - whilst  re-connecting millions of people with the River Severn along the way.


Report finds slow growth for red kites in Northern Scotland – Scottish Natural Heritage

Reintroduced red kite numbers are on the rise throughout much of Scotland, with at least 283 pairs in 2015, but a new Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) report has found the population in the North Scotland continues to grow more slowly than other reintroduced populations.

Red kite in flight (image: SNH)Red kite in flight (image: SNH)

The report updates earlier work and suggests that illegal killing is still considered to be the main reason red kite numbers are not higher in North Scotland.

The report, commissioned by SNH and carried out by RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science, found that, although not at risk of decline, the red kite population in North Scotland continues to grow very slowly. There are currently around 70 breeding pairs in North Scotland. The report shows that, had there been no illegal killing, there could have been as many as 1500 pairs. However, it also estimates that, even with this mortality continuing, there could still be around 131 pairs by 2024, and in the longer term, there could be around 550 pairs by 2044, although predictions are less certain over a longer time period.

Survival rates, and the proportion of illegally killed birds being found, were similar to the previous study. Of 57 dead red kites recovered between 2007 and 2014, 24 (42%) were confirmed to have been illegally killed. This compares with a figure of 40% of recovered dead birds confirmed to have been illegally killed throughout the period from the start of the reintroduction in 1989 up to 2006. Most red kites being killed are young birds, resulting in lower numbers reaching the breeding population. As a result, the population growth has been much slower than elsewhere.

Assuming the level of persecution remains unchanged, the study also assessed the impacts of a 2014 incident of illegal poisoning of red kites in Ross-shire as well as potential risks from wind farms. The incident in Ross-shire, in which 16 red kites were found dead with 12 subsequently confirmed to have been poisoned, raised fears of a significant impact on the kite population. The report found that when modelled as a one-off event, the Ross-shire incident had a relatively small impact in the short-term, but reduces the predicted 2024 population by 5% to 124 pairs and the estimated 2044 population by 7% to 513 pairs.

Access the full report


response: Scottish Gamekeepers Association statement: Red Kite Report

In response to a report by the RSPB, commissioned by SNH, on red kites in Scotland between 2007 and 2014, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association issued the following statement.


Half a million pounds to improve access to Wales’ Great Outdoors – Welsh Government

Visitors and local communities will now be able to enjoy even more of Wales’ great outdoors thanks to over half a million pounds of access funding, announced by Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths today (28/10).

In total, the Welsh Government has allocated £532,000 for 2016/2017 to improve accessibility in three of Wales’ iconic National Parks and four of our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Proposed work in the Brecon Beacons includes improvements to the access road and facilities at Llyn y Fan Fach in the West Beacons, and visitor and traffic management improvements at Pontneddfechan in Wales’ popular Waterfall Country. Last year, Welsh Government funding allowed the park to repair damage caused by illegal off-roading. 

Snowdonia National Park Authority will use the money to further develop the final section of the Snowdon circular route and to improve Cwellyn car park and Snowdon’s Watkin path. 

Previous funding allowed Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority to improve accessibility to the award-winning coast path. This year they will focus on improving the visitor offer at car parks by redesigning, adding interpretation, and improving surfacing and traffic flow.

Our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty have successfully obtained this access funding for the first time. The grant will allow them to create further access opportunities for people of all abilities to enjoy what they have to offer.


Rare geese return to Caithness for the winter – RSPB Scotland

RSPB Scotland has reported that rare Greenland white-fronted geese have begun returning to Caithness. They have been seen at the RSPB’s Broubster Leans nature reserve, south west of Thurso, and at a number of other nearby locations.

Their return follows an appeal last month from the RSPB , NFU Scotland and BASC for wildfowlers to take special care so that the geese are not mistaken for more common quarry species and accidentally shot. All three organisations are distributing specially commissioned geese identification cards to heighten awareness of the geese and help wildfowlers and others to correctly identify the birds.

Adult male Greenland white-fronted goose at the RSPB Loch Gruinart nature reserve (image, Andy Hay, RSPB)Adult male Greenland white-fronted goose at the RSPB Loch Gruinart nature reserve (image, Andy Hay, RSPB)

Police Scotland has added its support to the initiative. Superintendent Colin Gough said, “This is a good example of partnership working giving practical and easily understood advice to prevent accidental shooting of these migratory birds."

Dave Jones, RSPB Scotland’s site manager for Caithness said, “Caithness hosts a small but important population of Greenland white-fronted geese each winter. These birds have been placed on the Red List of birds of conservation concern and they are fully protected. They are lively sociable birds and can usually be seen in family groups, often a mixture of adults and juveniles. The juveniles lack the distinctive white markings of the older family members which can make them more difficult to identify. It’s always a pleasure to watch and hear them. Their calls have a yodelling quality about them which, once learnt, is quite easy to recognise. Our reserve at Broubster Leans is a good place to see them but they are very mobile and will travel from place to place to feed and roost. It’s great that so many people and organisations are recognising the importance of these geese to Caithness and I hope they continue to find the county a safe winter home as they have for so many generations past.” 


First record of a bearded tit in Herefordshire! – Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

Earlier this week (24th October), a bearded tit was spotted at a wetland sight in the Lugg Valley - the first time this species has ever been recorded in Herefordshire.

Beared tit, photo from Espen Quinto-Ashman via Herefordshire Wildlife TrustBearded tit, photo from Espen Quinto-Ashman via Herefordshire Wildlife Trust

The bearded tit is a striking bird with markings which look like it has a drooping black moustache. While the species is sometimes seen on the east and south east coast of the UK there are only around 630 breeding pairs in the UK and this is the first time one has been sighted in the county.

Reed beds, found around the edges of lowland lakes, are the bearded tits’ preferred habitat. They feed on the seeds of the reeds during the winter and in spring they build their nests from the reed stems. However, this type of habitat is becoming increasingly scarce across the country. In Herefordshire, the lakes which fill the exhausted gravel pits along the Lugg Valley have the potential to provide large areas of reed bed which would be of huge benefit to a wide range of wildlife.

At Bodenham Lake nature reserve, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust are planning to re-profile areas of the lake to create shallower sides and areas of reed bed.

The Lugg Living Landscape Officer, Sophie Cowling, commented: “This is such an exciting sighting. The bearded tit is exactly the sort of reed bed specialist we are hoping to attract to the reserve".


Scientific Publications 

Perry, G. L. W., Moloney, K. A. & Etherington, T. R. (2016) Using network connectivity to prioritise sites for the control of invasive species. Journal of Applied Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12827


Mannocci, L., Roberts, J. J., Miller, D. L. & Halpin, P. N. (2016) Extrapolating cetacean densities to quantitatively assess human impacts on populations in the high seas. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12856


Hanmer, H. J., Thomas, R. L. and Fellowes, M. D. E. (2016), Provision of supplementary food for wild birds may increase the risk of local nest predation. Ibis. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/ibi.12432


Francesca Bretzel, Francesca Vannucchi, Daniela Romano, Fernando Malorgio, Stefano Benvenuti, Beatrice Pezzarossa, Wildflowers: from conserving biodiversity to urban greening − a review, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Available online 25 October 2016, ISSN 1618-8667, DOI: 10.1016/j.ufug.2016.10.008.


García-Díaz, P., Ross, J. V., Woolnough, A. P. and Cassey, P. (2016), The Illegal Wildlife Trade Is a Likely Source of Alien Species. Conservation Letters doi:10.1111/conl.12301  


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