Birdwatch: Winds blight summer migrants

Blackbird'Ian Chesters'13 Barton Road'Heeley'Sheffield'S8 9TB'Mobile 07854917416'Ian Chesters'Ian224@hotmail.co.uk
Blackbird'Ian Chesters'13 Barton Road'Heeley'Sheffield'S8 9TB'Mobile 07854917416'Ian Chesters'Ian224@hotmail.co.uk

Well, it has certainly been an interesting spring.

The cold easterly winds that beleaguered the UK in April prevented many of our summer migrants from crossing over from the continent and the frequently unsettled conditions continue to have an impact on our breeding birds.

It hasn’t been all bad though, some species do seem to have been able to hunker down and simply get on despite the challenging conditions; robins, blackbirds, blue tits and the like have already raised healthy broods.

But many others have really struggled to get it together. Ground nesting birds often have a tough time in cold wet springs while many aerial feeders such as swallows and swifts can find gathering food a real trial in persistently blustery weather.

A single bad spring can result in many birds fledging very few young but nature is an amazing thing and most species do at least have the ability to recover and bounce back after a couple of seasons.

However when breeding is seriously affected by poor weather over successive years, catastrophic declines can pose a very serious threat to populations in the balance.

As it happens, much of our wildlife is having a worryingly tough time.

This grim fact was highlighted last week following the publication of The State of Nature, a thorough and altogether depressing examination of Britain’s increasingly imperilled environment.

Launched by Sir David Attenborough, the detailed publication looks at the many threats currently facing the UK’s varied wildlife.

In his introduction the veteran broadcaster warns of potential extinctions but does at least take heart in the work being done trying to stem the tide of decline.

Twenty-five of the country’s leading environmental organisations, including the RSPB, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the Mammal Society, Marine Conservation Society and Royal Botanic gardens, Kew have been working together to help paint a clearer picture of how our wildlife is faring in the 21st century.

And, that picture isn’t very pretty.

Once familiar plants, animals, insects and birds are simply struggling to survive in our modern world.

For me, one of the saddest comments in the report refers to the evidence that people are becoming ever more disconnected from nature.

Surely we owe it to future generations to nurture an interest in the world around them? How can we hope for a healthier, happier nation if we cannot even engage with the many wonderful, wild things with which we share our daily lives?

If The State of Nature achieves one thing I hope that it draws attention to the plight of our country’s amazing wildlife, ensuring that we all do something to secure a future where nature is allowed to prosper alongside us.

We can all contribute by visiting local nature reserves, supporting regional wildlife groups and by encouraging kids to get involved in nature-themed outdoor activities.

You can read the report in full by visiting www.rspb.org.uk/stateofnature

Jon Carter