Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drought scuppers hopes for wetland birds

20.07.2005


Once common wading birds in south-east England look set to be amongst the casualties of this year’s drought.



Numbers of successful breeding lapwing, redshank and snipe have dropped by up to 80 per cent at five RSPB reserves in Sussex and Kent. At Brading Marshes, an RSPB reserve on the Isle of Wight, low spring and summer rainfall has left land parched. Redshanks have gone completely while just one pair of lapwing remains.

The news comes just a week after Southern Water extended its hosepipe and sprinkler ban across most of Sussex. Last winter was the second driest since 1904 in the south-east and rainfall in each of the last eight months has been well below average.


Phil Burston, Senior Water Policy Officer at the RSPB said: “Some of the birds affected are already just clinging on in the areas where water shortages are most severe. If we do not cut our water consumption, drought orders will be imposed and these birds will suffer even more.

“The south-east is undoubtedly drying up. To save our wetlands, our wildlife and the livelihoods that depend on them, we must stop wasting so much water in our homes and gardens, build houses to the highest water efficiency standards and force water companies to immediately address their shameful rate of water leakage. Failure to do this will see our wetlands ruined and billions of pounds squandered on unnecessary new reservoirs and desalination plants.”

Wading birds need boggy grassland or damp meadows in which to nest and find their insect food.

Their numbers have tumbled in the last 25 years, particularly in lowland areas. The most recent survey (Breeding waders and wet meadows 1982-2002) found that in south-east England snipe numbers were down 96 per cent to just ten pairs, lapwing down 61 per cent and redshank down 42 per cent.

Numbers of both lapwing and redshank had begun to recover on RSPB reserves because of high quality wetland management. But winter and spring drought this year has left even those sites much dryer, reversing recent successes.

Drought in North Kent could also affect waders for several years to come. Cracks will develop in arid land and another dry winter will prevent the regeneration of suitable breeding habitats for next spring. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” said Alan Johnson, Site Manager of seven RSPB reserves in North Kent. “If we get too little winter rain the cracks will not close and what rain there is will just seep through instead of staying on the surface and creating the boggy sites that waders need.”

The RSPB believes the construction of thousands of new homes in the UK’s driest areas, and the subsequent demand for water, could seriously damage hopes of saving the south-east’s breeding waders.

Phil Burston said: “We have all become profligate with our water use yet could annually save ten billion litres of water, and our wetland wildlife, if these new homes were built to the highest water efficiency standards and if existing properties had water-saving devices installed.

“It would be a tragedy if we were to lose these birds just as they are beginning to return. Climate change and water shortages pose a very real threat but action now by government, house builders and water customers could save our beautiful wetland heritage, the charismatic wildlife that depends on it, and reduce thousands of annual water bills at the same time.”

Site by site:

Northward Hill, Kent, and Hoo Peninsula
Numbers of lapwing at Northward Hill RSPB Reserve have dropped by 80 per cent from 31 breeding pairs to six this year. Redshanks are also disappearing, their numbers down from 34 pairs to 11. Across the 5,000-hectare Hoo Peninsula in North Kent, which includes three wet grassland RSPB sites, just 60 of the 169 breeding lapwing pairs are left.

Pulborough Brooks, West Sussex
At Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve in the Arun Valley, close to the half-full Weir Wood reservoir, just one pair of lapwings has produced chicks compared to ten pairs in a normal year. Usually, at least six redshank pairs breed; this year just one has been successful.

“Our biggest worry is that the areas waders use are shrinking,” said Pete Hughes, Warden at Pulborough. “Declines may be less obvious here but as the flood plain dries out there are fewer and fewer places where they can nest. We are desperately trying to keep a few areas wet which means waders are more vulnerable because they are being forced into just one or two places.”

Brading Marshes, Isle of Wight
The picture is the same at Brading Marshes RSPB Reserve. “This has been a disastrous year for breeding waders,” Warden Keith Ballard said. “The water table is metres below the optimum. If we had had the expected rain earlier this year we would undoubtedly be attracting many more waders including snipe.”

Cath Harris | alfa
Further information:
http://www.rspb.org.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>