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BTO: Review of the year 2015

BTO members and volunteers are the beating heart of our organisation and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, however big or small your contribution over the past year. As a charity, membership subscriptions, donations and legacies make a really important contribution to our finances, ensuring that we can continue to monitor and research wild birds, providing an unbiased voice on issues affecting their future. Volunteers contributed a massive 1.5 million hours to our work, equivalent to us expanding our staff team from approximately one hundred people to one thousand for a whole year! We are inspired to continue our work by the incredible enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of supporters like you, so on behalf of all of the staff here at BTO, thank you!

The end of the road for Cuckoo Chris

Satellite-tagged Cuckoo
Cuckoo Chris. Photograph by BTO
Our Cuckoo-tracking project has attracted incredible public support from the very beginning, with thousands of people supporting the project financially by sponsoring one or more of the birds. The biggest star of all has undoubtedly been Cuckoo Chris, tagged in Norfolk in 2011 and named after SpringWatch presenter and BTO President Chris Packham. Every year since, the SpringWatch team has updated the nation on the fate of Chris the Cuckoo. We’d all become rather attached to Chris, so we were gutted when he reached the end of his journey in the desert of Chad this summer. This single bird made a remarkable contribution to our knowledge of Cuckoo migration and introduced a whole new generation of bird lovers to the wonders of ornithology.

Artificial lighting makes birds late for breakfast

Blackbird by John Harding
In early January 2014, almost 3,500 people recorded the time at which the first ten species arrived in their gardens to feed one morning for the BTO Garden BirdWatch ‘Early Bird Survey’. The newly published results show birds arriving later in both rural and urban areas with more artificial lighting.
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BTO: Raising funds to conserve our Curlew

Curlew, photograph by Jill Pakenham
Our new fundraising appeal is for urgent research into Curlew population decline, in a week when this species has been added to the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List.  Our ground-breaking programme of research will investigate patterns of extinction and colonisation and use revolutionary new technology to track wintering Curlew. Please help us by making a donation to the BTO Curlew appeal.
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RSPB: Peregrine shot in County Durham

Shot peregrine
The dead bird was found on the south-east edge of Stang Forest (Image: The RSPB)

Durham Constabulary and the RSPB are appealing for information about an illegally shot peregrine falcon found in County Durham.  

The dead bird was found on the south-east edge of Stang Forest, near the North Yorkshire border, on 23 August 2015 by a member of the public, who reported the discovery to Durham Constabulary and the RSPB. 

RSPB: New report reveals more than one-quarter of UK birds in need of urgent help

Curlew profile
The breeding population of curlew has declined 62% since 1970 (Image: Steve Round)

The latest assessment of the status of all the UK’s 244 bird species – Birds of Conservation Concern 4 – shows that 67 species are now of ‘highest conservation concern’ and have been placed on the assessment’s Red List. The revised Red List now includes even more well-known birds, including the curlew, puffin and nightingale, joining other familiar species such as the turtle dove, cuckoo and starling. 

Alarmingly, the Red List now accounts for more than one-quarter (27%) of the UK species. This is far higher than the last assessment in 2009, when 52 species (21%) were on the Red List. Most of the 67 species were placed on the Red List because of their severe declines, having halved in numbers or range in the UK in recent decades. Others remain well below historical levels, or are considered under threat of global extinction. 

BTO: Birds of Consevation Concern 4

The latest Red List, published today, shows that of the 244 UK species that are assessed 67 are now of the highest conservation concern. New ‘members’ of the Red List now include such well known birds as the Curlew, Puffin and Nightingale.
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BTO: 2015 NRS & CES preliminary breeding season results

Chaffinch abundance and productivity were low in 2015. Photograph by Jill Pakenh
Information collected by BTO volunteers shows that numbers of many resident bird species, and some migrants, increased in 2015. However, the spells of cool, wet weather that much of Britain & Ireland experienced in late-spring and summer left many birds struggling to breed, with more northerly populations faring particularly badly. See the Nest Record Scheme and Constant Effort Sites scheme preliminary breeding season report for details.
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