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May 2021

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Area bird list tops 100

Area bird list tops 100

The cuckoo singing on Baildon Moor on the last day of April would have had no idea of its significance. It was the one hundredth different species seen in the local area by supporters of the Airedale and Bradford Local Group this year.
The Airedale and Bradford RSPB Local Group have been asking their members to report birds sighted in their area. Group leader, Paul Barrett, commented, "Following the success of individual counts during the first lockdown last year, we thought it would be useful for our supporters to pool resources so that members of the public have an idea what can be seen in our area. We had hoped that the number of species would exceed one hundred, and with spring migrants arriving in the area, the number of species should continue to rise throughout the spring. Autumn passage migrants could also add to this number. With a bit of good fortune and some vigilance, we could get somewhere near one hundred and thirty by the end of the year."
Paul Barrett continued, "We are quite encouraged by the number of curlews that have been reported in our area. This is because curlews are in real trouble. Regional and possibly even country-level extinctions are now a possibility."

Easily spotted at coastal sites during the winter, during the spring and summer, curlews migrate to their breeding grounds - mostly in upland areas - raising their chicks in areas of rough pasture, heather moorland and wetlands.
During the breeding season, males deliver a loud and impressive 'bubbling' song to attract mates and defend their territories. This atmospheric song is surely one of the most evocative sounds of the British countryside.
There are around 68,000 pairs of breeding curlews in the UK - between 19 and 27 per cent of the global breeding population. This means the UK is arguably the most important country for curlews in the world. In 2008, curlews were deemed of global conservation concern and became listed as Near Threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
Steep declines have been particularly evident in the UK. Between 1995 and 2012, the breeding populations declined by 55 per cent in Scotland and 30 per cent in England.
Like many wading birds, curlews lay their eggs in a nest on the ground - known as a 'scrape'. The parents incubate the eggs for about four weeks, before the young leave the nest and roam around with their parents for a further four weeks, until fledging.
The RSPB, along with the UK's statutory nature conservation agencies, believe the curlew should now be considered the UK's highest conservation priority bird species and a recovery programme is urgently required.
Efforts made to save our curlew population will play a critical role in the global conservation efforts. Conserving and managing the mosaic of habitats required by breeding curlews is likely to benefit a wide range of other flora and fauna.

Despite restrictions put on volunteering work, the local group has remained active throughout the pandemic. Earlier this year, they undertook a series of 'indoor meetings' via Zoom with one of the guest speakers joining them from the Scilly Isles, another from Australia.
"We hope to be returning to our normal routine in September, when we will recommence our indoor meetings at the Kirkgate Centre in Shipley," explained Paul.
"The Zoom meetings were well attended, and we are considering continuing with the format occasionally - particularly in the winter months when the cold weather makes staying at home a more attractive proposition!"

An up-to-date list of birds seen in the Bradford area can be viewed here: https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/groups/airedaleandbradford/news/401915/
The Local Group catchment Area is BD1 to 22, LS19 and LS29. Feel free to report wildlife that has already been listed. If seen in accessible places, please let them know: abrspb@blueyonder.co.uk
Please don't report raptors during the breeding season (April-July).