produced, and guided walks will take place throughout the spring and summer. Although the Dunnet Head project has been a long time in the making, its announcement shortly after the news about Puffins highlighted exactly what the Red List is for – helping to set conservation priorities. Dr Mark Eaton, one of the RSPB’S Principal Conservation Scientists, explained: “We produce lots of stats which enable us to assess whether each species should go onto one of our lists of conservation concern, either amber for moderate concern or red, which are the ones we are really worried about. To be on the Red List you need to be a bird of highest conservation concern, meaning you’re in a pretty bad way. “You’ve declined very rapidly, you’re at risk of extinction globally, or you are historically depleted, meaning you are much lower population levels that you were in the past. We’re seeing Puffins, Kittiwakes and Shags join the Red List this time around, so we’re particularly worried about what’s happening to our marine ecosystems and the impact that’s having on our seabirds. “We use the Red List to prioritise our action. We use it to identify which species need help immediately and take action. So, if there is research to do to find out what the problem is, and how to tackle it, then we’ll do that, then once we know what needs to be done to help them we’ll get on with it, whether it’s land management, species recovery projects or lobbying government.” Expect, then, that the Puffin will continue to make headlines for some years to come. If it can, by virtue of its photogenic nature and our tendency to anthropomorphise it, draw attention to some of the less glamorous species also facing an uncertain future, it might just become even more popular with Britain’s bird-lovers. Like all auks, the Puffin is beautifully adapted for a sea-going, fish-catching life BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS).
WHAT ELSE IS ON THE LIST? Curlew, Nightingale, Merlin, Kittiwake, White-fronted Goose, Long-tailed Duckpied Flycatcher, Whinchat, Grey Wagtail, Mistle Thrush, Dotterel, Black Redstart, Slavonian Grebe, Shag, Red-necked Grebe, Ringed Plover, Woodcock and Pochard have all also been added (and Merlin re-added). They join the likes of Turtle Dove. Three species have been moved from the Red List to the Amber List (of Medium Conservation Concern), after successful conservation efforts. Nightjar, Dunlin and Bittern have all bounced back.
We’re seeing Puffins, Kittiwakes and Shags join the red list this time around, so we’re particularly worried about what’s happening to our marine ecosystems and the impact that’s having on our seabirds