In the July BB the Panel reports on 2010. It was a year of southern herons and southern warblers.
If you read my article on climate change in the August Birdwatch you will have seen that I described some of the changes that are ‘predicted’ by the mammoth study of the Climatic Atlas of European Birds.
Reading the RBBP report you can see signs of it all coming true too. Are subalpine, great reed, river and Marmora’s warblers on their way to colonise – or are they just toying with us? And these days you should look twice at any white heron to see whether it is a little egret or maybe a cattle egret or great white egret, and keep looking for spoonbills, purple herons, little bitterns and maybe even glossy ibises too. All these southern species seem to be on the move – and they are coming or way – perhaps.
I can remember the days when it felt as though the colonists would be from the north rather than the south. Purple sandpipers, fieldfares and redwings were nesting in the north of Scotland, there was that pair of snowy owls on Fetlar, and wrynecks were in the Speyside Scots pines instead of the English ancient forests, and the bluethroats most likely to colonise had red spots rather than white. All these species are still around but none has taken off in numbers as little egrets, for example, have. We are in an era, thanks to climate change, where the invaders are most likely from the south rather than the north.
Our bird populations are always changing – but now climate change is definitely a strong influence. This will not only affect what birds you see in the coming years but it ought to affect every aspect of your life. See Chapter 10 in Fighting for Birds for a much longer treatment of this subject.