Bird populations have long been considered to provide a good indication of the broad state of wildlife in the UK. This is because they occupy a wide range of habitats and respond to environmental pressures that also operate on other groups of wildlife. In addition, there are considerable long-term data on trends in bird populations, allowing for comparisons over time. Because they are a well-studied group, drivers of change for birds are better understood than for other species groups, which enables better interpretation of any observed changes. Birds also have huge cultural importance and are highly valued as a part of the UK’s natural environment by the general public. (see DEFRA, 2018).
Overall changes in bird abundance in Shropshire or the UK are not very meaningful. More telling is changes in abundance among particular species and groups of species representative of particular habitats. In the last forty years, species such as Blackcap, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greylag, Brent and Barnacle Goose, Avocet, Little Grebe, Collared Dove, Red Kite, Buzzard and Stonechat have shown strong increases in numbers. In contrast, many species have shown precipitous declines that are a cause of considerable concern. No less than three dozen species have shown 50% declines or more since the 1970s, with many Shropshire list species (such as Snipe, Starling, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Redpoll, Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Grey Partridge, Willow Tit and Turtle Dove) down by 80% or more.
Among the aims of the SOS is “to encourage the study and protection of birds in Shropshire and elsewhere” (who we are). To this end, the Society and its individual members have been active in survey work, habitat management and field research that is directed at the conservation of struggling and threatened species in the County.
This page provides a link to some of these activities. If you are interested in assisting, most of these links provide a contact person for the project.
CONSERVATION ACTIVITIES DIRECTLY INVOLVING SOS
THE SHROPSHIRE RAPTOR STUDY GROUP. The Shropshire Raptor Study Group was set up in 2010, with the active support of SOS. Membership is restricted to people who will go out and actively look for birds of prey. The Group are looking particularly for Goshawk, Hobby, Merlin and Red Kite. [MORE]
‘SAVE OUR CURLEWS’ CAMPAIGN’. Shropshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) and SOS have established a long-term County-wide ‘Save Our Curlews’ campaign, funded by a joint appeal which is being co-ordinated by SWT. A multi-agency Shropshire Curlew Group, including SOS, has been set up to oversee the campaign. [MORE]
RED GROUSE SURVEY. For the past several years, the Red Grouse population on the Long Mynd has been counted at dusk by the co-ordinated efforts of volunteers on several evenings between late March and early May. Volunteers have included participants of the SOS (Church Stretton branch), the NT-SOS birdwatching course, members of the local SOS, SWT and RSPB groups, National Trust Volunteers, members of the Strettons Area Community Wildlife Group, and others interested in birds. [MORE]
LAPWING AND CURLEW SURVEY. These species have suffered a massive contraction in range and population decline in the last 20 years or so, nationally and locally. In 2017, the Strettons Areas Community Wildlife Group initiated a Lapwing and Curlew survey to complement similar surveys carried out by other Community Wildlife Groups in different parts of the County, with the collaboration of the Church Stretton branch of the SOS. [MORE]
CONSERVATION ACTIVITIES INVOLVING SOS MEMBERS BUT NOT DIRECTLY AFFILIATED WITH THE SOCIETY
CLUN UPLAND WADERS. Lapwing, Curlew and Snipe are now scarce in the Clun Uplands, and they are getting scarcer. Conservation organisations, Defra and the Shropshire Hills AONB all want to assess the population of these birds, find out the level of breeding success, and take action to reverse the decline. We need your help to find these birds to do this. The area covered is the part of Shropshire to the west of the A488 between Bishop’s Castle and Knighton. [MORE]
AVERAGE SWALLOW ARRIVAL DATE. We have the dates of first Swallows since 1886 but when do MOST of them arrive? We would like every SOS member to help with this experiment to find out, this year. The request will go out in the press and on local radio – we do want hundreds of responses. Tell your friends. Thank you. John Tucker. [MORE]
LONG MYND BREEDING BIRD PROJECT. Ring Ouzels are mountain blackbirds which winter in southern Spain and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Most return to their breeding grounds in mid-April. Unfortunately the population is declining all over Britain, and the local decline has been catastrophic. As late as 1999 there were around a dozen pairs on the Long Mynd, but by 2003 only one breeding pair was found. In 2004 only a single male returned. No evidence of breeding has been found since. [MORE]
THE SHROPSHIRE PEREGRINE GROUP. The Group was formally established in September 1997 to monitor and record breeding activities, to submit breeding records and data to the appropriate authorities, to provide protection at vunerable nest sittes during the breeding season and report incidents of nest disturbance, to liaise with other raptor protection and wildlife groups with similar aims, and to publicise the vital role played by Peregrines and other birds of prey in the UK’s natural heritage. [MORE]
shropshire rookeries survey
shopshire swift group
shropshire willow tit survey