Building a picture of our native birds

A peregrine falcon 'Photo: David Foker
A peregrine falcon 'Photo: David Foker
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Dr David Rumble, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s head of conservation strategy, talks about how our birds are faring

Birds in particular have seen some ups and downs – including the Dartford warbler which has partially bounced back from its population collapse in the 1960s, thanks to conservation work by the trust and others.

However, this is just one glimpse of the overall picture of our local birds.

The only way to build up an accurate picture across the county is with people power.

An army of volunteers have contributed information to the latest Hampshire Bird Atlas – the newly published guide by Hampshire Ornithological Society. Here are some of their findings:

n Willow tit (-)

Willow tit have declined in Hampshire after their range shrunk across the UK. It is now rarely found outside the north and west of the county, and has been the focus for survey and conservation efforts under the trust-led project, Winning Ways for Wildlife. Climate change and fragmentation of its woodland habitat are suspected causes of its decline.

n Peregrine falcon (+)

This iconic species has only regularly nested in Hampshire since 1993 – and now some 18 nesting pairs have been recorded.

The species has recovered following a crackdown on persecution and the banning of certain pesticides. Peregrines have also adapted well to an increasingly urban Hampshire, nesting on buildings, cranes and chimneys in our towns and cities.


n Little egret (+)

A rarity just a few years ago, little egret have now established approximately six breeding colonies in Hampshire. This small white heron has been able to survive because milder winters cause their prey to remain active for longer.

n Redshank (-)

Since the last atlas, numbers of breeding redshank have declined significantly.

Whilst the species remain a frequent winter visitor to the coast, breeding numbers in our river valleys and wetlands have declined due to disturbance and rising sea levels. Redshank breed at Farlington Marshes nature reserve but has all but disappeared from the Lower Test Marshes.

Visit hiwwt.org.uk for more information on local birds and the reserves mentioned above.

To order a copy of the latest Bird Atlas, visit hos.org.uk.