Dec 5, 2017

Climate change is radically reshuffling UK bird species, report finds

United Kingdom
by
Damian Carrington
,
The Guardian
Rarer birds like the whimbrel have seen population declines. Photo: David Chapman, Alamy/Alamy
Rarer birds like the whimbrel have seen population declines. Photo: David Chapman, Alamy/Alamy

Climate change is radically reshuffling Britain’s birds, with some species disappearing while new migrants are settling. Timings are being reset too, with egg laying getting earlier in the year, while autumn departures for warmer climes are delayed by up to a month.

The State of the UK’s Birds report for 2017, published on Tuesday, reveals the profound impact of global warming on Britain’s bird life, which is set to become even greater in the future.

Average temperatures in the UK have increased by almost 1C in recent decades and familiar birds like swallows, which migrate to Africa every autumn, have responded by leaving up to four weeks later. Others, such as garden warblers and whitethroats, are also enjoying warmer British weather for longer.

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However, the warmer conditions are posing a serious risk of extinction in the UK for many of the nation’s rarer birds, particularly those found in the north. Among these the dotterel, whimbrel and common scoter have already seen significant population declines.