Bird watchers report decline in rapid and swallow sightings as experts blame abnormal Mediterranean storm that killed thousands of birds in April
- Strong winds over Greece in April forced migratory birds to take off
- Thousands of these African migrant birds were found dead on the streets
- Bird surveys in the UK have shown a decline in the number of swallows, swifts and others
An abnormal storm in the Mediterranean in early April led to a decrease in the number of sightings of swallows, swifts and other migratory birds in the United Kingdom.
In April, thousands of birds migrating from Africa to Europe died from the strong winds that hit Greece – they were thrown out and found dead on the streets.
The British Trust for Ornithology, which tracks migratory birds upon their arrival in the UK, said it has received reports from across the UK about a decline in the number of birds.
They say that sightings of swallows, swifts and martins have all gone down and that the “disastrous storm” in Greece is the most obvious cause.
However, they warn that this is purely anecdotal evidence as they have not been able to conduct proper investigations due to the coronavirus blocking measures.
An abnormal storm in the Mediterranean at the beginning of April resulted in the number of sightings of swallows (photo), swifts and other migratory birds falling in the United Kingdom.
A BTO spokesperson said DevonLive that they were receiving calls from across the UK from people asking them “where are our swallows”.
It was thought at the time that birds arriving from Africa to the UK would not be affected by the storm – but it now appears that this prediction was wrong.
Initially, bird experts assumed that birds flying to the UK from Africa took a different route than those flying to the Mediterranean, but the BTO says it’s time to rethink.
“We still think the birds are likely to come from Spain and France, but we don’t really know,” a BTO spokesperson told DevonLive.
“If we ever get the technology, we might find that more products go through East Africa than through the West,” he said.
During a three-day period in early April over the Aegean Sea, thousands of small birds were found dead or seriously injured.
The southerly winds pushed flocks of birds from North Africa into the air currents which left them exhausted and hungry.
The RSPB reports that these migratory birds generally arrive in the UK in March and April, but the lower than normal number of sightings may be due to a late arrival.
“The number of swallows has fluctuated over the years as the 1980s saw a decline in swallows and martins,” said a spokesperson for the RSPB.
“They seemed to bounce back after that, so the fluctuations could be pretty natural.”
“ However, since 2010 there has been a downward trend – this is not enough to indicate a long-term trend in terms of conservation compared to other bird species that have suffered due to the climate crisis and eco-friendly, ” he said.
This has been supported by the BTO which claims that birds, notably Nightingale, Cuckoo and Swift, are in particular in decline according to their surveillance.
The British Trust for Ornithology, which tracks migratory birds upon their arrival in the UK, said it has received information from across the UK about a decline in the number of birds, including the live (photo)
The current decline in numbers, which they say is linked to the storm in Greece, is only linked to this year – but there is a larger problem.
“Many of these species occupy complex habitats such as woods during their reproduction and they can be affected by processes occurring anywhere in their annual cycle,” writes the BTO in a study.
“They can use multiple sites separated by thousands of kilometers throughout the year and the processes leading to declines can occur at more than one, and there can be interactions between events occurring at different stages . “
Bird experts say the current decline in the number of swallows could be due to a mixture of long-term decline and the storm in Greece.
“There have been so many anecdotal reports of fewer swallows than it suggests something has gone wrong,” said a spokesperson for the Devon Wildlife Trust.