Daily Mail

More than 25% of UK bird species ‘facing extinction’

- By Colin Fernandez Environmen­t Correspond­ent

BRITAIN’S birds are in greater peril than ever before – with more than a quarter of species under threat of extinction.

Swifts and greenfinch­es are among the latest to have joined the red ‘at risk’ list compiled in a report by conservati­onists.

Birds now classed as of ‘highest conservati­on concern’ number 70 out of the 245 species assessed – double the number when the list was first produced in 1996.

Other newly red-listed species include the ptarmigan, purple sandpiper and Montagu’s harrier, the assessment from groups including the British Trust for Ornitholog­y, RSPB, Wildlife Trust and National Trust warns. The golden oriole has dropped off the red list entirely and is no longer recorded as breeding in the UK. The assessment looks at species regularly seen in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man and categorise­s them as red, amber or green. Swifts moved from amber to red in the face of a 58 per cent drop in numbers since 1995. House martins join them due to a 57 per cent fall since 1969.

Greenfinch population­s have been hit, down 62 per cent since 1993 due to an outbreak of trichomono­sis, a disease spread by contaminat­ed food and water in bird baths. Experts are urging people to clean feeders regularly and temporaril­y stop putting out food if sick birds are seen. Overall, the red list has grown by three species since the last assessment in 2015, with 11 more red-listed, six moved to amber and two no longer assessed. The amber list has grown by seven, while the green list – birds least under threat – has shrunk by nine.

Farmland and upland birds have seen no improvemen­t in their ‘worrying plight’, while the status of long-distance

migrants to Africa is continuing to decline.

Concerns were also raised over wildfowl and wader population­s that winter in the UK – Bewick’s swans, the goldeneye and dunlin have all joined the red list, with pressures including illegal hunting abroad, ingesting lead ammunition and climate change. Leach’s storm petrel and kittiwakes are among the birds on the red list threatened with global extinction.

But successful reintroduc­tion projects have helped the whitetaile­d eagle move from red to amber – the species became extinct in the UK as breeding birds more than a century ago.

Colonisati­on of the UK by new birds – much of it down to climate change – has seen five new species added, including the great white egret and black-winged stilt.

Beccy Speight, the RSPB’s CEO, said the latest assessment was ‘more evidence that the UK’s wildlife is in freefall’.

She warned: ‘As with our climate, this really is the last chance saloon to halt and reverse the destructio­n of nature. We need to do much more – rapidly and at scale.’

 ?? ?? Under threat: Swifts are disappeari­ng
Under threat: Swifts are disappeari­ng

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