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Facebook The challenges the natural world faces are far closer to home than we often realise.
Many of the impacts are already visible in local parks and back gardens. As seasons become less distinct and food supplies become less reliable, bird behaviour is changing.
This means that summer migrants are being spotted in winter in gardens and parks, as Urban Birder David Lindo has witnessed: “One Christmas, I even found a common redstart hopping in the snow like an oddly coloured robin.”
David has been bird watching at his local patch in London for nearly 25 years and has noticed the change: “Turtle doves and cuckoos were once regular, if scarce, spring visitors to my London patch. I’d sometimes glimpse one or two flying north. Sadly, I’ve not seen either for five years.”
Population monitoring is crucial in identifying species that are currently struggling or could be under threat in the future. Often bird monitoring focuses on the rare and localised, but experience in the UK and elsewhere has shown that even common and widespread species can be under threat.
The RSPB supports a wide range of surveys to monitor bird populations in the UK, and volunteers like David are crucial to understanding the status of the UK’s birds. Most of these surveys are delivered through the sterling efforts of the UK's thousands of expert volunteer birdwatchers.
These surveys have provided a far clearer picture of the issues facing many of our most treasured species. Although they show that some are thriving and others struggling, one particularly troubling theme emerges – the pressures on species already in decline are increasing. Threatened birds like the dotterel, whimbrel, common scoter and Slavonian grebe are all likely to be at a higher risk of extinction.
Often the threat is less direct but no less severe. Puffins depend on sandeels as their main source of food, but these fish are becoming less available during the crucial breeding season. This in turn puts the future of the UK’s already fragile puffin population a
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