Friday, July 3, 2009

2 July,2009.

Well, shortly after I'd mentioned torrential storms yesterday, and their effects, we had one to be remembered when a significant amount of rain fell in quite a short period. The remaining part of the day was very oppressive with just odd spats of rain. No future as a weatherman then!!

Remained locally but with nothing much of note. A couple of Corncrakes are still calling around the village and further north at Lossit and a Grasshopper Warbler has struck up again, presumably after a first breeding attempt. A report of 5/6 Bottle-nosed Dolphins in Portnahaven Bay was something which, hopefully, might be repeated.

A report dealing with declines in woodland birds on Earth News (BBC), based on work undertaken by the British Trust for Ornithology, provides alarming reading. The results, from the Common Birds Census survey carried out over 30 years (1966-1999) have shown significant declines in seventeen (17) species. Some of these overwinter in tropical West Africa where their habitat is being destroyed. The species involved are: Nightingale, Common Starling, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser spotted Woodpecker, Whitethroat, Willow Tit, yellowhammer, european Turtle Dove, Tree Pipit, Woodcock, Marsh Tit, Common Cuckoo, Dunnock, Willow warbler, Song Thrush and Bullfich ).

Having seen some of the habitat loss in Gambia, West Africa in 2002 and 2004 such changes perhaps come as no surprise. The real challenge is to halt the trend, but when agricultural intensification is involved in a third world country the raft of issues involved becomes even more complicated! A personal concern links with the ever apparent effects of climate change, the potential for vast changes within the Sahel Zone, immediately south of the Sahara Desert, and the possible onset of drought and extensification of the area. Such changes decimated our Whitethroat and Sand Martin populations previously when a vast extension of the area southwards caused the distance needing to be covered by migrants to increase enormously with no hospitable areas available en route for respite.

To me, the most intriguing results refer to some of our more resident bird species (Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Dunnock and Bullfinch) and the
causes for their decline. It would seem the possible reasons are still not absolutely determined.

Further research is to be carried out, including in Ghana and Burkino Faso, in an attempt to determine more precisely what the factors are involved.

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