A new report shows that one-third of Europe’s bird species are declining and 20% are threatened or near-threatened with extinction. The European Red List of Birds, published last week by BirdLife International, uses pan-continental data to assess how close each species is to extinction in Europe. It rates seabirds, wildfowl, waders and raptors as the most threatened, and that the majority of larks, buntings and shrikes are declining.
The speed of some declines are shocking, and include birds that are or used to be regular in North Wales. Among the species that have moved from the Least Concern category to threatened status since 2016 are Merlin, Snipe, Redshank and Rook, while Swift is now considered to be Near-Threatened. All have declined in breeding abundance in Wales in the last 30 years. Several birds that winter here from elsewhere in Europe have also moved into the highest risk categories, including Pintail, for which the Dee estuary is the most important site in the UK.
On a more positive note, some birds have moved in the other direction, to categories of lower concern including species that have been the focus of intensive recovery efforts, such as Red Kite and White-headed Duck. Others, such as Black-tailed Godwit, are benefiting from climate change, at least for now.
Our birds’ connection with the rest of Europe is illustrated by a big influx of Redwings and small groups of Whooper Swans this week, along with winter arrivals that include Lapland Buntings and Firecrest on the Great Orme, Black Redstart at South Stack and a Scaup at Rhyl’s Brickfields Pond. The long-staying Garganey at RSPB Conwy has been joined by a showy Jack Snipe and a Spoonbill is on the Inland Sea. Yellow-browed Warblers have been very scarce this autumn, though one was reported on the Great Orme on Saturday.
Although fewer Jays have been reported on the coast this week, larger flocks inland reported by readers include up to 25 over the Ogwen Valley and 11 over Ewloe. Read this previous blog to find out why.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales.