Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mallards

In line with the wetlands theme is the recent publication of the Wetland Bird Survey report, Waterbirds in the UK 2005/06. One facet of information that appears to have been targeted from this report is the falling numbers of Mallards - as provided by winter counts at the Ouse Washes (the only locality with nationally important numbers). The decline, first noted in the 1980’s, has continued to the extent that a count of 4,457 in 2001/2002 has now fallen to 2,454 in the winter 2005/2006.

Why this decline is occurring is unknown – it may be something as simple as warmer winters allowing birds to stay on their local ponds without a need to move to sites with more food, or it may be something more sinister that has yet to be discovered.

Whichever it is it will probably result in more Mallards being ringed than is done at present. It’s a bit like the House Sparrow scenario – they were so common they were ignored and then, just when we needed data to analyse declines, we had none.

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