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Appalling summer was a disaster for birds

[Monday 05 November 2007]
curlew
Appalling summer was a disaster for birds

BRITAIN'S birds took a mega hit earlier this year because of the appalling summer weather. Of 25 species regularly monitored by scientists, seven suffered their worst breeding season ever.

These dismal figures were issued today (Monday) by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), which has been recording birds numbers for 25 years at specially selected "constant effort sites" - areas kept under constant observation.

And this year's cold wet summer was seen to be a breeding disaster for some of our most popular birds. The seven biggest losers in 2007 (all with their worst ever productivity) were:

Blue Tit (48% below the long-term average); Great Tit (33% below normal); Reed Warbler (27% below normal); Whitethroat (25% below normal) and Willow Warbler (19% below normal)

There is one welcome surprise, however. Long-tailed Tits had their highest ever productivity this year, showing an increase of 48% on the long-term average. They are early nesters - building nests in February and March - and may well have taken full advantage of the great April weather.

BTO scientist Mark Grantham commented:"For resident birds, such as Blue and Great Tits, it will be interesting to see how they cope with the poor season. Most may well be able to bounce back next year, but it is more serious for the migratory species (Reed Warbler, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler). These are already suffering problems both on migration and in Africa, so a poor breeding season just adds to their plight."

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