Worrying decline in bird numbers on south coast

Published in the Portsmouth News on Wednesday 28th September 2011

BIRD populations in Hampshire and West Sussex are showing some of the worst declines in the country, according to a new study.

Birds that have shown serious declines over the last 20 years include grey partridge, corn bunting and lapwing.

Scientists found that the lesser spotted woodpecker, the marsh tit, and the willow tit have fallen to record lows.

The RSPB study, produced in association with the British Trust for Ornithology, found that farmland birds in the region have declined by more than a quarter, while woodland birds have fallen by 19 per cent.

The study also reveals a divide between north and south England – with birds in the north doing better than in the south.

Steve Gilbert, from RSPB South East, said: ‘We’ve known for some time that many bird species are struggling in the south east, but the results of this survey really highlight the problem.

‘It’s worrying that we’ve lost more than a quarter of our farmland birds and a fifth of our woodland birds in this region, with species like the lesser spotted woodpecker, the willow tit and the corn bunting having vanished from some counties.

‘There are a variety of factors that could be causing this, including lack of woodland management, woodlands drying out, which may be linked to climate change, high human population density and intense use of land and water resources. Variations in these factors between the north and south of England could help explain the staggering regional differences.’

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