Friday, 23 October 2015

Wader Conservation World Watch.


Wader Conservation World Watch. 

Part of Wader Conservation November

A celebration of wader conservation and conservationists.

7th & 8th November 2015

Its as simple as A,B,C.

A.     Go out and see waders/shorebirds wherever you are in the world.
B.     Send us an email telling us what you have seen and where.
C.     We'll create a list the species seen between us worldwide.
D.     Look for you name on the roll of honour on this website.

It is that easy; no registering required just good old-fashioned bird watching... oh! And an email.

This is your opportunity to show your solidarity with, and appreciation of, wader conservationists around the world be they professionals or volunteers.

Go and see waders: because you can!


This year the UK will have its first dedicated wader festival.

Join us for the 
Wirral Wader Festival
14th - 15th November 2015

Discover the dark side at RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre this Halloween

There are spooky goings-on at the RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre, with lots of Halloween fun for families to enjoy.

Stroll around Fairhaven Lake, collecting nature's own tricks and treats, before using them to create your own screaming apple head to scare the spooky things away!

There’s no need to book – just turn up between 10:30 am and 3 pm.

Children must be accompanied by an adult, please wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear.

Price:  £1 donation per child.

Venue:            RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre, Inner Promenade, Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire, FY8 1BD.

Contact:         RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre on 01253 796292.

Ribble Discovery centre

What’s going on in the garden? New poll reveals what people are up to in their gardens and backyards


Have you ever wondered what’s going on in your neighbour’s garden? Are you worried that you’ll be caught having a gawp? Well now you don’t have to. Recent RSPB polls have revealed what’s going on in people’s gardens all over the UK – from what wildlife they’d like to see more of in their outdoor space to what is the most likely item to be passed over the garden fence.
It was revealed that almost two-thirds (65%) of people in the UK would like to see more butterflies in their garden, making them the most commonly desired garden species. Garden birds, such as robins, starlings and house sparrows, swiftly followed with 62% of people wanting to see more of them, with the top three rounded off by hedgehogs (53%) 

Commenting on the results, Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation’s Head of Recording, said: “Butterflies bring bright colours and graceful movement to our gardens and epitomise the long, warm days of summer. They also provide an important signal about the state of other pollinating insects; a garden full of butterflies will support a myriad of other beneficial and fascinating creatures too.”

As to be expected relaxation proved to be the most popular main function for many gardens in the UK, with 44% of people with an outdoor space using them to kick back and relax. However, almost 1 in 10 (9%) see the main function of their garden or outdoor space is to help support wildlife .

Richard Bashford, RSPB Giving Nature a Home Project Manager, said: “Gardens and outdoor spaces are a place that people love to socialise, spend time with the kids and just generally relax after a long day. But the great thing about gardens is that they are multi-functional – we can socialise and relax in them but they’re also a perfect place for people to help support wildlife. And having a garden brimming full of wildlife makes them even lovelier places to enjoy.”


You don’t need green fingers to make your garden more wildlife-friendly. The RSPB’s free Giving Nature a Home guide is full of useful hints, tips and activities for the whole family - there’s something for everyone and every size of garden.  

Richard added: “The polls showed three-quarters of the UK population with a garden or outdoor space feel that it is important to encourage wildlife into gardens . The RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign encourages people to get out in their garden and do something for nature; no matter how big or small, it will make a huge difference and help nature find a home.”

It was also revealed that the UK is a nation of people who enjoy a gossip with their neighbour. In the answer to the question ‘which, if any, of the following items are you or your neighbour most likely to pass over the garden fence’ 21% of people surveyed answered ‘gossip’, another 6% answered ‘flower bulbs/seeds’ and ‘ladder’, and 5% said ‘hedge clippers’ and ‘wildlife/gardening advice’ .

The polls were carried out to get an insight into how people helped UK wildlife in their garden or outdoor space, and if they felt it was important to encourage other people where they lived to do the same.  

Through the RSPB’s campaign Giving Nature a Home you can help tackle the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside space – whether it is by pollen-rich plants to attract bees and butterflies, putting up a nest box for a house sparrow, or creating a pond that will support a number of different species.
To find out more about the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign and how you can help, visit:

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Nature needs us and we need nature - State of nature

Nature conservation organisations call on Government to deliver ambitious vision for nature and people

An ambitious and inspirational long-term plan is urgently needed to save nature and improve our well-being as the Government considers its spending priorities – that is the clear message from the Response for Nature report published today by a coalition of leading conservation organisations.

The Response for Nature report for England, a follow up to the 2013 State of Nature report, will be launched by BAFTA-award winning naturalist, writer and TV presenter, Steve Backshall, and 26 conservation organisations at Church House in London this evening (Tuesday, 13 October), while simultaneous events will be held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, to launch reports for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Each report makes key recommendations to which governments must respond to, to help restore nature in the UK. We are losing nature at an alarming rate, so we must act now to halt and reverse this decline before it’s too late – not only for nature itself, but people too.

In 2013, scientists from 25 nature organisations worked side-by-side to compile a stock take of our native species – the first of its kind for the UK. The resulting State of Nature report  revealed that 60% of the species studied had declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed were under threat of disappearing from our lands and shores altogether.

In his speech at tonight’s London launch Steve Backshall will say: “The State of Nature report revealed where we are. Now we need a plan for where we should go. The Response for Nature document starts us on that long road.

“Let us be in no doubt that the public is behind us. An independent survey showed that 90 per cent of the UK population feel that our well-being and quality of life is based on nature.

“Action can’t be simply hived off to a single, hard-pressed department in Whitehall. It must run as a matter of course through every department, from Defra to the Treasury. Every department needs to understand that restoring nature will be a key solution to some of our most pressing social, environmental and economic problems. Every individual, from top to bottom, needs to embrace it, and act on it.

“To the Government, I say – please read this report, take note and act on its recommendations. Come back with the details of your 25-year plan for the environment. People and nature need you to make it a great one.

The Response for Nature reports outlines specific asks for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help save UK nature. To ensure its recovery, nature needs the UK Government, or devolved Government’s, to take the following common actions now:

1.     Deliver an inspiring vision for nature – nature needs to be a part of our lives. Government must set a trajectory for nature’s recovery so that, by 2040, we have a country richer in nature and can see people connecting, respecting and valuing nature.

2.     Fully implement and defend the laws that conserve nature – our most important laws that safeguard species and special places, the Birds and Habitats Directives, are under threat. We must resist attempts from Europe to weaken our laws and ensure the full implementation of legislation that aims to reduce pressures on nature.

3.     Deliver a network of special places for nature on land and at sea – we need special places to be protected and well managed, and linked within a wider landscape with room for people and nature.

4.     Recover threatened species targeted through programmes of action – we must halt species extinction, but more than that, we should be restoring priority species to favourable conservation status, where populations recover to a healthy state.

5.     Improve the connection of young people to nature for their health and well-being and for nature’s future – we need to improve how children learn from and connect with nature, ensuring future generations continue to benefit from and contribute to the protection and enhancement of the natural world.

6.     Provide incentives (or other financial measures) that work for nature – we need to reward those who enhance our natural world, and make those responsible pay when we take more from it than we put back.

7.     Support people working together for nature – we all have a part to play in saving nature. Each and every one of us needs to take care of, and take action for, nature – before it’s too late.

Butterfly Conservation Chief Executive, Dr Martin Warren, who will be speaking at the Response for Nature launch tonight, said: “Nature is in trouble, the time to act is now. Conservation NGOs are keen to play their part but we need a strong lead from the UK Government. We welcome the commitment to produce a 25 year plan to restore nature but this must be turned into effective action and fast. We need this for nature but also for the health and well-being of the people of this country.”

As the Chancellor considers the Spending Review and budgets for Government Departments, the Response for Nature coalition is urging them not to undervalue the contribution that a healthy environment can make in delivering a host of public benefits including improved health and happiness, more effective planning, flood prevention, sustainable farming and climate change adaptation.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “There are some big decisions being made over the coming months about public spending, the future of nature laws and development on land and at sea.  These decisions must not erode the basis of nature protection.  We need leadership from the Prime Minister to ensure all Government Departments play their part in enhancing the environment for this and future generations.”

The Response for Nature coalition for England includes the following partners:

·         A Focus on Nature
·         A Rocha UK
·         Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust
·         Bat Conservation Trust
·         Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
·         British Bryological Society
·         British Pteridological Society
·         Buglife
·         Bumblebee Conservation Trust
·         Butterfly Conservation
·         Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
·         The Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland
·         Freshwater Habitats Trust
·         Friends of the Earth
·         The Fungus Conservation Trust
·         John Muir Trust
·         The Mammal Society
·         Marine Conservation Society
·         National Trust
·         People’s Trust for Endangered Species
·         Plantlife
·         RSPB
·         Whale and Dolphin Conservation
·         The Wildlife Trusts
·         Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
·         The Woodland Trust


Saturday, 10 October 2015

Record-breaking year for bird that fronts the RSPB logo

On the day of the charity’s Annual General Meeting it has been revealed that the avocet, a bird once close to extinction in the UK and the emblem of the RSPB, has enjoyed a record breaking year across RSPB reserves. 


Mike Clarke, RSPB’s Chief Executive, said: “Where avocets lead, nature follows. The arrival of avocets on the Suffolk coast in 1947 heralded our continuing relationship with this special place. Minsmere is now a flagship RSPB reserve, beloved by the many visitors that are drawn to the wildlife spectacle. Since avocets colonised Minsmere, they’ve been crucial for the survival of many species, including bitterns and marsh harriers, and under our care is home to a wealth of wildlife.

Avocets continue to take up residence around the country – often colonising places that we and others have created for them. They are a symbol of conservation success – and the reason they feature as the logo of the RSPB.”

This year, Minsmere celebrated what was the best breeding season for avocets in almost 30 years, with 58 chicks being successfully reared.

Ian Barthorpe, Visitor Experience Officer at RSPB Minsmere, said: “We’re thrilled to have had such a successful breeding season on the reserve this year. Avocets hold great symbolic significance for Minsmere, and they attract thousands of visitors to the reserve each year who hope to get a closer look at these beautiful and unusual birds.” 

The long-legged bird also reached a record number of 172 pairs on Cliffe Pools reserve in North Kentthe highest number recorded at Cliffe and one of the highest concentrations ever recorded in the UK. Habitat work undertaken at the nature reserve has led to the creation of individual islands which have been successful in enabling avocets to use these areas as secure nesting sites, away from predators.

Further north, avocets were amongst many wader species to nest at Middleton Lakes in Staffordshire this year, representing the first breeding of avocets in the county. Frampton Marsh reserve in Lincolnshire welcomed their best ever year; the number of breeding pairs reached 81 compared to 0 in 2008 due to their dynamic management work. Small ‘nursery pools’ have been created on wet grassland which are ideal for chicks to feed on as they offer protection from predators. Record numbers were also recorded at the Dee Estuary reserve in Cheshire due to efforts to improve an anti-predator fence last winter. 

With autumn now upon us, the number of wintering avocets will soon reach approximately 7,500 across the country. Poole Harbour in Dorset attracts a huge wintering colony of avocets, with numbers having risen from 25 to almost 2000 in just 30 years, now accounting for an astonishing 40% of the UK wintering population, making it the most important British wintering site.

Pioneering science, saving species from the brink and working with landowners and businesses are amongst the major RSPB successes from the past 12 months. Other notable successes, which will be celebrated at this year’s AGM include; RSPB’s partnership with Crossrail in breaching the seawall at Wallasea Island; tracking the migration route of a turtle dove for the first time; and taking on the management of the world-famous Sherwood Forest Country Park and visitor centre

With over 200 nature reserves across the county, there is an abundance of wonderful wildlife out there to be seen and opportunities to get closer to the natural world. So far we’ve discovered 16,000 species on RSPB reserves, including a multitude of moths, mosses, molluscs and mammals, and we think there are many more still to be recorded. To find a site near you visit

Driven grouse shooting: status quo, licensing or a ban? -Martin Harper -conservation director

In the run up to our AGM tomorrow, there has been some debate about the RSPB’s position on driven grouse shooting.  I am not surprised - this is a high profile issue and everyone has a right to have an opinion.  However, I thought it would be useful to re-articulate our position.

In theory, grouse moors, in conservation terms, are not inherently a bad thing. A well managed moor could offer help for curlews, golden plover and allow birds of prey to fly free from harm. Sensitive management of semi-natural vegetation, active restoration of degraded habitats, and a welcome place for walkers and birdwatchers could be hallmarks of good grouse moors. Grouse moors could be striving for the highest standards of environmental management, adapting to new science and information on things as diverse as lead shot or habitat management practices.
But is there a driven grouse moor which does all of the above? If there is, we would love to know. As with any other land management system, there is a spectrum of intensity and not all grouse moors are the same.  Some moor owners strive for the above, but it’s clear they are in a minority.
The current voluntary approach to meeting public expectations of what we want from our uplands, is quite obviously not working (see my recent update on the RSPB’s Walshaw complaint to the European Commission here), and the illegal killing of hen harriers and other raptors continues.  This is leading some to call for an outright ban on driven grouse shooting.  Whilst we do not yet take this stance, we can certainly see their point and the anger about ongoing persecution is shared.
The RSPB, which has always been neutral on the ethics of shooting, has had dialogue with the grouse industry for decades, but laws protecting the nation’s birds of prey continue to be broken.  Intolerance of any predator appears to be part of the “business model” of some driven grouse shoots.
Over the last decade we've seen a significant change in the way the industry operates, with intensification of management practices, as expectations of big grouse bags have grown. These include an increase in the frequency of heather burning, often over deep peat soils, the use of grouse medication and, in some places, the culling of mountain hares in a bid to control grouse disease; and even more intensive predator control, including the widespread illegal control of protected birds and mammals.
Any responsible industry would take action to raise environmental standards and put pressure on those that tarnish the reputation of others.  While there are those within the moorland community calling for reform, their voice is not loud enough or being heard.   What’s worse, is that much of the grouse moor sector seem to be in denial of the impacts this intensification is having on our shared environment and wildlife. While we recognise the potentially significant benefits of grouse moor management, there is compelling and still-growing evidence that the on-the-ground reality of driven grouse shooting as currently practiced in many parts of the UK, is one where damage outweighs any benefits.
Which, if you are concerned about these things, means the status quo is not an option.  You can either regulate through licensing, or ban it.
We believe that the effective regulation of grouse shooting and its associated management practices, delivered through a sensible licensing regime and effective enforcement, can deliver a grouse shooting industry fit for the 21st century.  We’ve also developed and shared principles for such a scheme (here).  This would complement existing legislation such as the EU Nature Directives and domestic wildlife legislation.  Only time will tell if licensing is sufficient but it is the most logical next step, and long overdue.  And, of course, there are many questions about how a ban on ‘driven grouse shooting’ would work in practice. 
Intensive driven grouse moor management, as currently practiced in much of the UK, is environmentally unsustainable and damaging.
Licensing has the potential to deliver all of the benefits I mention at the top of the blog and more – notably healthy populations of upland wildlife of which protected birds of prey, such as hen harriers are a characteristic component.  It would also set out what is expected in the wider public interest from this large scale land use in the uplands and that surely has to be a good thing.
Given the growing public profile of environmental harm associated with intensive grouse shooting, a rational industry would embrace licensing and take action to raise standards.  Governments across the UK should recognise that growing intensification is incompatible with their environmental and political commitments and as a result, they need to regulate.  
Failure to act will simply mean calls for a ban will intensify.
We want licensing and we want it to work.
The status quo is not an option and we cannot allow it to persist much longer.
Bowland Betty deceased

Mark Avery response Blog

Ahead of today’s RSPB AGM, Martin Harper posted a very robust blog about the RSPB’s position on driven grouse shooting (click here).
Just as I did yesterday, Martin asked the question whether there are any grouse moors out there that do all the right things. He clearly doesn’t know of any (which makes licensing a bit of a tall order really).
His blog also has some other strong words, such as:
Intolerance of any predator appears to be part of the “business model” of some driven grouse shoots.’
While there are those within the moorland community calling for reform, their voice is not loud enough or being heard.   What’s worse, is that much of the grouse moor sector seem to be in denial of the impacts this intensification is having on our shared environment and wildlife.
Intensive driven grouse moor management, as currently practiced in much of the UK, is environmentally unsustainable and damaging.
Failure to act will simply mean calls for a ban will intensify.’
The status quo is not an option and we cannot allow it to persist much longer.’
These are strong words, and welcome words.
But if they are not to be empty words then they must be followed by strong action. The RSPB should give Defra until Christmas to come up with a plan that will tackle wildlife crime and environmental damage caused by intensive grouse moor management and if none is forthcoming promote our e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting to the RSPB’s 1.1m members in order to secure 100,000 signatures by 21 January and a debate on the subject in parliament.
The RSPB is stirring, and the country is stirring. Please sign this e-petition and help secure a debate in parliament on driven grouse shooting.

Hen Harrier weekend 2015