News archive

January 2017

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Lodge Hill proposal threatens wildlife habitat across Britain

Lodge Hill proposal threatens wildlife habitat across Britain

Medway Council in Kent is set to test governmental safeguards that prevent wildlife, natural habitats and beauty spots from being lost to housing.

If approved, the authority's plans could pave the way for thousands of new houses to be built on Lodge Hill, land that should be protected for nature.

Lodge Hill, Kent, is recognised as one of the strongholds for Common Nightingale in Britain, a legendary species that has seen its population in England drop to less than 6,000 singing males from over 60,000 a few decades ago. The decline of the species is so alarming that Nightingales are listed among our most threatened birds and included on the UK Red List. However, the land is being targeted by Medway Council as a prime location to build thousands of houses.

The area includes ancient woodland with rare types of grassland which are home to mammals, reptiles, amphibians, rare insects and flowers, as well as Nightingales. The importance of Lodge Hill is so great that in 2013 the government declared it a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

In addition to being recognised as a nationally important site for nature, local people have also demonstrated that they value Lodge Hill. Echoing the concerns of conservationists, local communities spoke out when the local authority approved a developer's planning application to build 5,000 houses on the area back in 2014. The strength of opposition from local groups could not be ignored and the decision will go to a Public Inquiry in 2018.

Alan Johnson, south-east conservation manager for the RSPB said: "Flying thousands of miles from Africa, Nightingales arrive at Lodge Hill every year to spend the summer in Medway where they nest and raise young. As they arrive they blend perfectly into their environment as they serenade the Kent countryside with their distinctive song. So it is deeply concerning that one of the few areas where they are thriving could be lost under bricks and concrete, threatening the country's Nightingale population as well as the strength of protection SSSIs should receive."

Stephen Trotter, Director of The Wildlife Trusts England, added: "Lodge Hill is an important test of whether the government is committed to its stated aim of leaving the natural environment in a better state than this generation inherited it. We should be celebrating and protecting sites of international wildlife importance like Lodge Hill, not building on them."

Home to thousands of species, SSSIs are officially recognised as among the best places for wildlife in the UK, and are legally protected to safeguard us from losing these invaluable natural places. This level of protection should ensure the area is preserved as a home for wildlife today and for future generations.

There are just 4,000 SSSIs in England, and only Lodge Hill has been designated specifically for its Nightingale population. The government's National Planning Policy sets out that land that has been designated a SSSI can only be developed if all other options for potential developments have been exhausted. It is not clear that Medway Council has fully explored every alternative or option to allocating Lodge Hill for development, and the fact that Lodge Hill is a SSSI is not obvious in the council's consultation document.

Martin Harper, RSPB's director of conservation, said: "The destruction of Lodge Hill would be one of the largest ever losses of a protected wildlife site in Britain. [Its] legal protection means that development should only be a last resort. A decision to go ahead with this housing would set a dangerous precedent for the nation's other protected sites."

The potential loss of Lodge Hill and what this may mean for other SSSIs has brought together conservation groups from across Kent and the wider country. Alongside the RSPB in campaigning to protect Lodge Hill are The Wildlife Trusts, Buglife, Friends of the North Kent Marshes, Medway Countryside Forum, Butterfly Conservation, Woodland Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust.

Medway Council's public consultation runs from 16 January to 6 March 2017. To find out more about the concerns being raised by conservation groups and get involved in saving Lodge Hill from development visit www.rspb.org.uk/savelodgehill

Saturday, 21 January 2017

BOU to adopt IOC World Bird List

The British Ornithologists' Union (BOU) has announced that it is to adopt the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) World Bird List for all its ornithological needs, including the British list, from 1 January 2018.

This follows a detailed review by the BOU's Records Committee (BOURC), which involved inviting the four main global avian taxonomic authorities (eBird/Clements, HBW/BirdLife, Howard & Moore and IOC World Bird List) to each submit a proposal that could be assessed against agreed BOURC criteria and related questions.

Initially, the BOU Council appointed a delegation which discussed the merits of each proposal to help arrive at an informed view on behalf of Council. This delegation reviewed the proposals but did not consider there was any strong reason to make a recommendation for any of the candidate taxonomies ahead of a full meeting of BOURC.

BOURC subsequently met on 10 December 2016 and invited members of the Council delegation to attend, two of whom did so. The Council delegates engaged in discussions but had no vote in the process. It was expected a recommendation to BOU Council would be made as a result of the meeting. All members of BOURC, bar one, were present.


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The British Ornithologists' Union (BOU) has announced that it is to adopt the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) World Bird List for all its ornithological needs, including the British list, from 1 January 2018.

This follows a detailed review by the BOU's Records Committee (BOURC), which involved inviting the four main global avian taxonomic authorities (eBird/Clements, HBW/BirdLife, Howard & Moore and IOC World Bird List) to each submit a proposal that could be assessed against agreed BOURC criteria and related questions.

Initially, the BOU Council appointed a delegation which discussed the merits of each proposal to help arrive at an informed view on behalf of Council. This delegation reviewed the proposals but did not consider there was any strong reason to make a recommendation for any of the candidate taxonomies ahead of a full meeting of BOURC.

BOURC subsequently met on 10 December 2016 and invited members of the Council delegation to attend, two of whom did so. The Council delegates engaged in discussions but had no vote in the process. It was expected a recommendation to BOU Council would be made as a result of the meeting. All members of BOURC, bar one, were present.

Hudsonian Whimbrel
Eurasian (upper left) and Hudsonian Whimbrels will be 'lumped' on the British list from next January (Photo: Brian Field)

Before discussing the taxonomic proposals in detail, the Committee considered two issues raised by those present. First, the need for and benefits of a unified global taxonomy were agreed upon. Second, it was agreed that the EU's current use of the HBW/BirdLife taxonomy would not be a material factor influencing the Committee's discussions.

The Howard & Moore proposal was discussed first as this was the only proposal for a taxonomic system which was not currently available online, and the Committee felt that accessibility of the new taxonomy to be adopted was important. With no online version envisaged until the next update (which was said to be some years away), the Committee concluded that this proposal would not be considered further.

In their respective submissions, the IOC World Bird List and eBird/Clements had stated their increasing collaboration, and their agreement that a single global taxonomy was desirable. On the latter point the International Ornithologists' Union (IOU) has stated that it intends to hold a session at IOC2018 in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2018 which will look at ways to progress to a unified global taxonomy.

This left the Committee with two alternatives: HBW/BirdLife on one side and IOC World Bird List and eBird/Clements on the other. Arguments were advanced in support of both alternatives, and the BOURC members at the meeting were evenly split between adopting either HBW/BirdLife or the IOC World Bird List. From a show of hands during which the Chair abstained, there were four votes on each side. Each member of the Committee then summarised his or her reasoning, and members were given the opportunity to reconsider their vote.

The outcome remained unchanged and so BOURC Chair, Andrew Harrop, used his casting vote to recommend that the BOU adopt the IOC World Bird List. It was made clear that one of the key factors in this decision was the expectation of a move towards a more unified global taxonomy, and in that respect the BOU should work with IOU/IOC to ensure that this happens.

In summarising his reasons for the recommendation, the Chair expressed the view that moving to the IOC World Bird List would be the most likely way of achieving a more unified global taxonomy, especially in light of the proposed meeting at IOC2018. He also stated that this move would be more in keeping with the BOU's previous approach to taxonomy, and in many quarters would have greater scientific credibility. BOURC will review the decision in five years' time.

British list: more gains than losses
BOURC's landmark decision to adopt IOC taxonomy will inevitably mean changes for its British list. Overall it would appear that the total of species recorded in Britain is likely to increase slightly, with a number of 'splits' recognised by IOC but not currently by BOU. For example, Isabelline (Lanius isabellinus) and Red-tailed (L phoenicuroides) Shrikes are considered two separate species, and Bean Goose becomes Taiga (Anser fabalis) and Tundra Bean Goose (A rossicus). Fea's Petrel (Pterodroma feae) and Desertas Petrel (P deserta) become two species. Thayer's Gull (Larus thayeri) is also recognised by IOC as a full species, and not as a subspecies of Iceland Gull (L glaucoides).

Two-barred Warbler (Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus) will be elevated to full specific status rather than continue as a subspecies of Greenish Warbler. Two other Far Eastern vagrants, Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis) and Stejneger's Stonechat (Saxicola stejnegeri), are also afforded full specific status, as is North America's Least Tern. Each of these will therefore become species additions to the revised British list.

However, one significant loss from the future British list is Hudsonian Whimbrel, which remains a subspecies of Whimbrel, despite a review of its taxonomic position. The redpoll complex is reduced from three species to two  Common and Arctic  meaning the loss of Lesser Redpoll as a species. IOC's handling of two taxonomic minefields, crossbills and subalpine warblers, remains in line with current BOURC treatment.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Coach Trip to Rainham Marshes

Coach Trip to Rainham Marshes

A date for your diary - Wednesday 27th September 2017.

We are planning a coach trip to Rainham Marshes on the above date. Further details will follow later and will appear in the 'Events Page'.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Solar Boat Trip - Full

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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Pin Badge Minders needed

Pin Badge Minders needed


Slindon Caravan Park(seasonal) Arundel BN18 0RG

St Mary's Gate Inn Arundel BN18 9BA

Country Crafts Arundel BN18 9DG

Bertie's Cafe Arundel BN18 9DG

Co-op Arundel Arundel BN18 9JG

Mill Road Tea Rooms(seasonal) Arundel BN18 9PA

Swanbourne Lake Arundel BN18 9PA

The Cricketers Nr. Petworth GU28 0LB

Graffham Camping & Caravanning Site(seasonal) Petworth GU28 0QF

The Folly Wine and Ale house Petersfield GU31 4AD

The Good Intent Petersfield GU31 4AF

White Hart Inn Petersfield GU31 5QB

The George Chichester PO18 0LT

Compton Village Shop & Tea Room Chichester PO18 9HA

SPR Fontwell Chichester PO20 3RU

The Ship Inn Itchenor Itchenor PO20 7AH