The mystery substance found on hundreds of seabirds washed up on the south coast is a “mixture of refined mineral oils”, says the Environment Agency.
Wildlife experts have warned many more birds could be affected by the waxy substance. Hundreds of birds were found on beaches from Sussex to Cornwall on Thursday. Environment Minister Richard Benyon said: “Every effort is being made to identify the cause of this problem. I’d like to thank everyone involved in helping the seabirds affected and it’s thanks to their efforts that many have been cleaned up and now have a chance of survival.”
The total rescue count so far is 162 alive and rescued, but 200 are dead, including a juvenile puffin, a fulmar and 3 razorbills. It is thought the substance may have been dumped into the English Channel by a ship. Most birds have been found in Dorset but others are appearing in Sussex, Hampshire, Devon and Cornwall.
Posted in Birds, Nature, Oil spills, Wildlife
Tagged birds, birdwatching, conservation, nature, pollution, RSPB, RSPCA, seabirds, wildlife
Mistle thrushes are disappearing from UK gardens says the RSPB. The charity’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey – back this weekend – shows that mistle thrushes are now seen in fewer than half the number of gardens they were seen in ten years ago.
People are being urged to take part in the 34th annual Big Garden Birdwatch, on 26-27 January, to keep vital information about these, and other garden birds, coming. RSPB Conservation Director, Martin Harper, says: “Everyone that has ever taken part in Big Garden Birdwatch has helped to make us aware of huge changes in the populations of birds like house sparrows, starlings and song thrushes, leading us to do more work on the decline of these familiar birds.
“Mistle thrushes are already on the amber-list of conservation concern and are closely related to the threatened song thrush. The rate of decline we’ve seen throughout Big Garden Birdwatch suggests these species are in need of help.”
Almost 600,000 people across the UK, including 90,000 pupils and teachers at schools, took part in the Birdwatch last year counting more than 9 million birds between them. Everyone can join in by spending just one hour at any time over Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time then submitting the results to the RSPB.
A new 25-year partnership project that aims to protect internationally important seabird populations on the Isles of Scilly has been given the green light.
The islands are home to breeding populations of 14 species and about 20,000 birds, including storm petrels, Manx shearwaters and puffins. The local seabird population has declined by almost 25% in the past 30 years, mainly because eggs and chicks have been preyed upon by rats.
Up until now, rodent control work has been confined to Scilly’s uninhabited islands and has left them rat-free, although work is regularly required to maintain this status. The project, which involves the RSPB, Natural England and the Duchy of Cornwall together with the islands’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty partnership, Wildlife Trust and Bird Group, aims to make two of Scilly’s inhabited islands rat-free over the next 25 years.
Most of the scheme’s £900,000 financial backing is coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and, because of Scilly’s Special Protected Area status, from the European Union’s LIFE budget too.
Paul St Pierre, RSPB Conservation Officer, said: “As well as seeking to bolster the population of seabirds, we want to involve more people in the celebration, enjoyment and protection of the islands’ seabird heritage. We want to help these islands make more of their seabird heritage and to strengthen its image as a seabird-friendly destination for an ever wider audience.”
The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch is back on 26-27 January, giving people all over the UK the chance to be part of the world’s biggest wildlife survey.
To take part, people are asked to spend just one hour at any time over the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, noting the highest number of each bird species seen in their gardens or local park at any one time. They then have three weeks to submit their results, either through the RSPB website or by post.
Now in its 34th year, the survey provides the RSPB with an important snapshot of garden bird populations in winter and has helped to highlight some dramatic declines in UK garden birds.
Sarah Houghton, RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Manager, said: ‘Everyone who takes part is contributing to the world’s biggest wildlife survey and helping us learn more about some of our most familiar garden birds.
‘The declines of birds like starlings and sparrows over the last 30 years or so have been alarming, but Big Garden Birdwatch has helped us find out more about their numbers and distribution across UK gardens, and that has been the first step in helping to put things right.”
Some bird species have fared considerably better over the years. None more so than the woodpigeon, which has increased by a massive 800% since 1979. Sightings of popular species like blue tits, great tits and coal tits in gardens have also risen.
Once you have registered with the RSPB website they will send you a free pack of hints and tips, some reminder emails, plus a £5 discount to use in the RSPB online shop. There’s also a counting sheet to download, which will help you to keep track of all the birds you spot.