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Country News - 2005

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Thrushes boom whilst cuckoos slump

Monday 15 February 2005

ONCE AGAIN, it is good news, bad news for Britain's wild birds according to the latest survey by the British Trust for Ornithology, which is compiled with the help of no fewer than 30,000 amateur bird-watchers.

Statistics from the 2004 survey, published today, show that some of the country's best-known birds, including the cuckoo and the acrobatic yellow wagtail, are in serious decline, having lost more than half their numbers since 1967 when the annual census began.

Cuckoo numbers are down by 56%, yellow wagtails by 67% and willow warblers down 58%.

But on the good news front, the steep decline of the song thrush - which a few years ago seemed headed for virtual extinction - has sharply improved.

Song thrush numbers are up 20% in the past decade and marsh tits and reed buntings have also climbed back above the 50 % decline level.

One of the reasons for the song thrush recovery could be the much-maligned global warming.

Dr Rob Robinson, senior population biologist at the BTO said, "Song thrushes have reacted badly to the drainage and drying out of the British countryside and it could be that damper summers have been good news for the species. It is just so much easier to find nice, juicy earthworms when the ground is damp."

Anyone wishing to see the detailed tables should log onto: www.bto.org/birdtrends2004/key_findings.htm


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