News archive

December 2016

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Solar boat trip, Chichester Harbour leaving from Itchenor

Solar boat trip, Chichester Harbour leaving from Itchenor

(Limited number of places available, on a first come first served basis for more information please contact leader)
Location: Meet at the raised viewing platform in front of the harbour conservancy office (PO20 7AW) by the quay at Itchenor. From Stockbridge roundabout on the A27 take the A286 towards the Witterings, at the mini roundabout just past the Nisa Store at Birdham take second turn-off (B2179, West Wittering) then turn right a few hundred yards after Russell's garden centre following signs to Itchenor and continue to the end of the road. The Harbour Conservancy Office is the last building on the left opposite the waters edge.
Leader Carole Griffiths
Mudflats and harbour shoreline. Wildfowl, seabirds and divers.
Time: 10:45 am (half-day)
Price: £7
Telephone: 07752011436

Thursday, 22 December 2016

RSPB Bearded Tits reach record high.

RSPB Bearded Tits reach record high.

Bearded Tit  one of Britain's rarest breeding birds  has spectacularly bounced back from a population crash to reach the highest numbers recorded in the UK, according to a recent survey.

The Rare Breeding Birds in the UK report, published by the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, revealed that the British Bearded Tit population increased from 618 pairs in 2013 to 772 pairs in 2014  the highest number since monitoring began in 1995.

This new record is all the more remarkable given the population crash discovered by the 2011 survey. Bearded Tits are very sensitive to periods of hard winter weather and this can have a knock-on effect on their breeding success. A disastrously cold month in December 2010 decimated Britain's Bearded Tits, with just 360 pairs in 2011 representing a decline of nearly half.

Aided by a succession of mild winters, this is the third year in a row that numbers have increased and it is hoped that the work carried out to improve and create more habitat for Bearded Tits across RSPB nature reserves will allow the trend to continue.

Bearded Tits, named for their resemblance to Long-tailed Tit and the dark, moustache-like facial markings seen on males, are found in well-managed reedbeds. The historic loss of this wetland habitat across the UK has resulted in the population becoming fragmented across isolated areas in south-western, eastern and northern areas of England.

The Humber Estuary is one area that has become a stronghold for Bearded Tits in the UK. Work to create new ponds and extra management of reedbeds has resulted in the population bouncing back, with a healthy population at the RSPB's Blacktoft Sands helping to increase the total Humber population from around 40 to 250 pairs in just five years.

Dr Mark Eaton, RSPB Conservation Scientist and Chairman of the Rare Breeding Bird Panel, said: "It is always special to see Bearded Tits dancing and diving about the reedbeds on a crisp winter's morning  such a charismatic bird.

"Unfortunately they are very sensitive to the hard winter weather and there was a big dip in numbers after a particular harsh weather in 2010. But when they have a good breeding season, like in recent years, they can produce lots of young so numbers can bounce back rapidly. As the population can fluctuate year on year it's vital that we continue to manage the reedbeds they call home to give them the best chance of thriving."

Saturday, 10 December 2016


Avian Influenza update: 7 December 2016
Infections of H5N8 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in wild, captive or domestic birds have now been reported in 14 countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Please use the Defra helpline (see "What To Do" below) to report any wild bird die-offs in Great Britain.

No cases have been found in the UK but as a precautionary measure Avian Influenza Prevention Zones have been put in place in England, Scotland and Wales requiring that poultry and captive birds be kept separate from wild birds.

Avian Influenza Update: 11 November 2016
Eight countries in Europe have reported detections of H5N8 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), between 3rd and 11th November 2016.These outbreaks are reported to have affected various waterbird species including Tufted Duck, Coot, Pochard, gulls, geese and swans. None of the outbreaks were in the UK but the risk to the UK of the incursion of a wild bird infected with H5N8 HPAI in the coming weeks is considered to have significantly increased to medium from low.

Up-to-date information
General government guidance on avian influenza can be found at: for England.

The latest information from Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency on the current outbreaks in poultry, captive and wild birds in Europe can be found at:

What to do
Birdwatchers can be of great assistance in staying alert for unusual cases of mortality or sickness in wild birds. If you notice unusual mortality, i.e. five or more wild birds dead in the same location, you should report them by calling the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm) and selecting option 1, or by emailing

Reports are also encouraged when a single dead wild duck, wild goose, swan or gull is found. Not all birds may be picked up for testing, but collating this information may reveal patterns of mortality.

It should be stressed that HPAI is a disease of birds. It is of great concern for the poultry industry but does not appear to be a major issue for human health in the UK. Whilst deaths have occurred in other countries, the numbers of cases have been very low and have been confined to people in very close contact to infected poultry. The advice is that there is no danger from eating well-cooked poultry and there is certainly no danger from normal birdwatching activities. Sensible basic hygiene should be used if you do come into closer contact with birds.

Feeding birds
It is extremely unlikely that bird flu could be transmitted to people by feeding birds in the garden.

Birds carry a variety of diseases, such as salmonella. The single most important action we can take, to protect both the birds that feed in our gardens and ourselves, is to follow hygiene guidelines.

In all circumstances, after handling bird feeders, cleaning bird baths or feeding birds, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Bird feeders should be washed and cleaned regularly to prevent spread of diseases such as salmonella. This should be done outside in your garden with dilute disinfectant (normal household bleach diluted 1:20).

What do I do if I find a dead bird?
Many thousands of birds die every week of natural causes and so it is not unusual to occasionally find dead birds. If, however, you find five or more dead wild or garden birds together in the same place and you are suspicious of the cause of death, do not touch the birds and contact Defra using the details above. This is particularly important for species like waterfowl.

Where possible, avoid directly touching any dead birds. If you move a dead bird (e.g. if a cat brings one into your house or you need to check if it is ringed), invert a plastic bag over your hand and pick the bird up in the plastic. If the bird is ringed, report the ring details to the BTO (, then draw the bag over your hand and tie it up and dispose of it in your usual household waste, then wash your hands with soap and water.

Advice for Ringers
Ringers have been issued with more detailed guidance (PDF, 446.84 KB) .

Further information will be provided as it becomes available.