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 Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

nachricht Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

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: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>