The summer so far has seen a fairly mixed set of fortunes for my local birds. All the warblers seem to have enjoyed a good breeding season and so too our raptors (one local pair of Bonelli’s Eagle raised 2 chicks this year). However, the worrying trend of declining Egyptian Vulture continues to dominate my thoughts here and no clear evidence has emerged to support various views as to the reasons for this decline. Whether it is due to poisons used in Africa, both on wintering grounds and migration routes, or persecution and poisoning here, is still under debate. The rate of decline is alarming and certainly answers and solutions need to be agreed upon as a matter of urgency.
The economics of farming practises continues to have an effect upon certain species, some benefiting and others showing signs of a gradual decline. Most noticeable in our region is the poor returns for sheep and goat herders. The reduced level of hill and mountain grazing has led to, in certain areas, a slow decline in such species as Northern and Black-eared Wheatear, whilst increased ground cover has helped other species i.e. Spectacled and Dartford Warblers. The continuing increase in boundary fencing is also having an affect on the freedom of movement for grazing herds and again this has produced ‘enclosures’ of scrub which further reduces the amount of open and grazed habitats preferred by such species as Black Wheatear, Tawny Pipit, Black Redstart and Rock Thrush.
In my attempt to end on a cheery note, it has been another good year for White-rumped Swift and I have found a couple of new sites for the species in the local area.
I hope you all continue to enjoy your summer birding and keep safe. Maybe I will see some of you this coming Saturday at our Field Meeting?
Author: Peter Jones
Photos: Peter Jones