Something for a rainy day

Willow warbler. photo:Tim Melling
Willow warbler. Photo: Tim Melling

The weather forecast isn’t great for the next few days so you might find that you are stuck indoors when you would like to be out looking at waxwings or fieldfares (I must do some winter thrush recording) or geese or holly or ivy.

Here are some new maps from the BTO to get your brain working and some of them will remind you of warmer times.

The maps are based on the BBS scheme from its start up until 2009. For a range of common species the maps show breeding densities and population changes.  These are the types of data that just catch my imagination – and as a BBS recorder I am very pleased to see these novel analyses.

Read the caveats and then dive in and let your imagination loose on what these maps are telling you about British birds.

Here are some things that caught my eye:

  • the increases in numbers of some common resident species towards the north of their range (eg blackbird, wren, robin)
  • the north/south divide in population trends for some individual species (most notably willow warbler and cuckoo perhaps, but see also linnet)
  • the major declines of quite a few species on Orkney, and to a lesser extent Pembrokeshire (as was) and Cornwall.
  • house sparrows and starlings
  • lapwing – so rare in southern England but lots of increases further north

I’ll come back and look at these maps every now and again because they are fascinating.  How many of the changes are due to climate change and how many to agricultural change and how many are inexplicable at the moment?


3 Replies to “Something for a rainy day”

  1. Just for the record Mark Pembrokeshire is very alive and well. The 1974 amalgamation of Pembs, Carmartharnshire and Ceredigion to Dyfed has since been dropped and all three counties exist in their own right. This news seems to have never crossed the border.

    Sunday morning trivia I concede.

    1. Derek – thank you for the correction. I’ve always liked Pembrokeshire. A little England beyond Wales…?

  2. Thanks Mark for a really interesting link, the maps are first class. Interesting to see how Kestrels and Buzzards have done well in the arable areas in the Midlands and East Anglia. A hopefully sign maybe of dare I say it Els or HLS ?

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