Every now and again a book appears which grabs your attention and dominates your time! The last time this happened to me was when Mark Avery’s ‘Fighting for Birds‘ was published. Now the BTO, Birdwatch Ireland and the SOC have published their Bird Atlas 2007-11. It is a magnum opus both in terms of size and intellect. The book does however differ in many ways from Mark’s – I read his at a single sitting whereas the Atlas will take months to digest!
It is not a cheap book at £70 but it is an essential read for all people interested in bird conservation in this country.
Although I have spent a lot of time looking at the book I have by no means read it all yet but I have done a small of of analysis – what does this book tell us about the status and prospects for Dartmoor’s birds?
Whilst the analysis in the book is very scientific and rigorous my musings are of course subjective and I would welcome comment on it.
Below is a table which looks at the fate of 30 ‘classic’ Dartmoor species. The table gives the national distribution, changes since 1968-72, changes to the Dartmoor distribution and changes in abundance since 1988-91 along my thoughts on their prospects.
The Atlas shows that there are some clear winners (e.g. ravens, buzzards, peregrines and goshawk) and some real losers (wood warblers, ring ouzels, turtle doves and golden plover). Other species such as the whinchat are doing poorly but Dartmoor / Devon are real strongholds for the species nationally.
When I have had some more time to read the book and do some proper thinking I will write another blog outlining what I think the National Trust ought to be doing to help Dartmoor’s qunitessential birds. In many regards the Atlas is rather depressing – despite our huge efforts in actively managing our large Dartmoor woodland estate species such as wood warbler, common redstart and lesser spotted woodpecker are still decling. On our moorland (in Higher Level Stewardship) ‘common’ species such as wheatear, meadow pipit and skylark are holding their own whilst whinchats are stuggling.
Comments welcome and more to follow.
|Status of some selected breeding birds on Dartmoor|
|using data from the Bird Atlas 207-11|
|Habitat||Species||England Wales Scotland Distribution – % 10km occupied||England Wales Scotland Breeding distribution change 1968-72 to now||Dartmoor Distribution change 1968-72 to now||Dartmoor abundance change 1988-91 to now||Current Dartmoor fortunes|
|W||Buzzard||90||-22%||Same||Slight gains||Very good|
|R||Common sandpiper||42||-14%||Gains and losses||Stable||Average|
|M||Curlew||57||-17%||Losses||Slight losses||Very poor|
|M||Dartford warbler||5||+352%||Gains||Slight gains||Good|
|M||Golden plover||24||+20%||Losses||Almost extinct||Very poor|
|R||Grey wagtail||76||+19||Slight losses||Losses||Poor|
|F||Lapwing||74||+17%||Large losses||Almost extinct||Very poor|
|W||Lesser spotted woodpecker||20||-41%||Gains and losses||Losses||Very poor|
|M||Meadow pipit||90||-2%||Slight losses||Gains and losses||Average|
|W||Pied flycatcher||18||-2%||Gains||Some losses||Average|
|M||Ring ouzel||15||-43%||Losses||Losses||Very poor|
|F||Turtle dove||21||-51%||Large losses||Extinct||Very poor!|
|W||Willow tit||20||-55%||Losses||Losses||Very poor|
|W||Wood warbler||28||-35%||Large losses||Considerable losses||Very poor|
|M||Woodlark||5||-23%||Gains and losses||Gains||Average|
|Bird Atlas 2007-11 – The breeding and wintering birds of Britain and Ireland. (2013)|
|Balmer, Gillings,Caffrey, Swann, Downie & Fuller. BTO, Birdwatch Ireland and SOC|