The marvellous BBS – marvellous for mammals

It’s nearly time for me to carry out the ‘late’ bird survey on my other BBS square. I wonder what I’ll find.

I’m one of the BBS recorders who notes mammals as well as birds on my transect walks. I don’t see much, but the occasional Brown Hare or Rabbit is added to the recording sheets.

I see from the latest excellent BBS report (see also here for an earlier blog) that one of those species is declining pretty dramatically in the UK according to the data from birders like me, whereas the other is holding its own. Which do you think is which?

Here’s the Rabbit:

https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/bbs/latest-results/mammal-monitoring

And here is the Brown Hare (for England – but it doesn’t make a lot of difference):

https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/bbs/latest-results/mammal-monitoring

And here is the Red Fox for interest (also for England – but it doesn’t make a lot of difference either):

https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/bbs/latest-results/mammal-monitoring

Aren’t they fascinating? I think so.

Are they believable? Why not? After the pages in the BBS report on mammal monitoring there are a couple of pages , written by Prof. Diana Bell, on rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus and that seems a pretty likely explanation for the Rabbit’s decline (and the worrying thing is that more Brown Hares are being found across the UK and Europe dying from this disease).

Now it would be good to compare these graphs with those collected by skilled mammalogists wouldn’t it? Are there any? I don’t know where to find them if so…

I go back to my review of the most recent mammal atlas of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and revisit the apparent reluctance of mammalogists to accept that birders can identify anything other than a few mammals. Seems to me that the birders appear to be collecting some very useful data, almost as a sideline (in fact, absolutely as a sideline!).

Wouldn’t it be rather fun if Mammal Society members, and others, were encouraged to survey new BBS squares for mammals and ignore all the birds if they wanted to do so, just to increase the sample sizes even further? I’m serious, the last thing that is needed is a mammal survey when the BBS would do the job, already appears to be doing the job, reasonably well for a range of species.

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