As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

‘Modern farming practices have caused farm bird numbers to decline’

Modern farming practices have caused farm bird numbers to decline, according to Dr Alex Copland of Birdwatch Ireland.

Speaking at Teagasc’s Agri-Environment Conference in Tullamore recently, the Senior Conservation Officer, highlighted the reduction in farm bird species over the past 40 years in Ireland.

According to Dr Copland, the decline in farm birds has occurred primarily as a result of agriculture and changes in farming practices have had a major impact on numbers.

“Farm land birds are all in decline as a result of a switch to modern farming practices. Something has to be done to stop this decline, GLAS has introduced a large range of measures for these priority farm land birds.”

However, Dr Copland added that the declines in farm bird numbers were not just confined to Ireland as similar reductions have also occurred in the UK.

There have been huge declines pretty much across the board but some species do go extinct, they can vanish completely.

“However, contraction in species does not only occur in Ireland – similar declines have occurred in the UK and further a field.”

According to the representative from Birdwatch Ireland, the new GLAS scheme has the potential to reverse some of this damage, but it can not operate on its own and farmers’ understanding of the scheme is vital.

“GLAS cannot operate in isolation, it is essential that there are other supports, farmers need to understand why they are carrying out these measures. An understanding is crucial to the success of the scheme.”

Moreover, he added, that similar schemes have been proven to work, which includes schemes involving the Corn Crake and the Grey Partridge.

“We are looking at huge numbers participating in this scheme but how can we be sure that the measures work?”

There were declines in Corncrake numbers, but over the last 20 years the numbers have stabilised as we now understand what they need and we are able to deliver it on the ground.
“There is a very quick response when the correct measures are introduced.

“It was almost too late to save the Grey Partridge, it almost disappeared but the conservationists came in and managed to save it,” he said.

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