Endangered puffins and the Seabird Protection Zone 

Press release from Birds On The Edge 

Birds On The Edge is delighted to announce that Jersey’s Atlantic puffins have started to arrive to their breeding cliffs on the Island’s north coast.

This small colony has comprised only four breeding pairs in the last few years, and it is hoped that at least as many will return this year. The puffins have been a bit late to arrive, with only one or two having seen so far over the past few days.

This is the most delicate time for our puffins, as they settle back in their nests and wait for their mates to arrive. Any disturbance or negative experience could put them off and make them abandon the area, sending them off to look for quieter breeding grounds elsewhere. After they have settled, the presence of boats and other watercraft near their breeding sites might disrupt or affect natural behaviours, such as incubation of the egg, fishing, or feeding their chick.

Birds On The Edge asks everyone to follow the guidelines of the Seabird Protection Zone (SPZ) between Plémont and Grève de Lecq, and avoid visiting this area by boat, kayak, paddle board or any other type of watercraft between March and July. These guidelines are already observed by boat and kayak tour operators, who avoid this area at this sensitive time, as well as by the local fishermen, who only visit the area briefly to check their pots.

The presence of watercraft in the Seabird Protection Zone is monitored during regular puffin and seabird surveys. In 2020 a steep increase of leisure craft in the SPZ was noticed in comparison with the previous year. The number of private boats and kayaks recorded per hour increased by 360%. This was believed to be a result of the travel and lockdown restrictions put in place during the pandemic. It was hoped that this year all private boat and kayak users will avoid the area completely until the breeding season is over. However, Birds On The Edge has already received reports of people on kayaks going through the SPZ over the past week.

It is worth remembering that puffins and their relatives, the razorbills, can be found all across the north coast, but as their breeding is restricted to this area, it is extremely important to give them peace and quiet in order for them to return to their nests.

The safest way to enjoy puffins is from the public footpath between Plémont and Grève de Lecq. As the Jersey puffins nest in rock crevices and between boulders below the coastal slopes, they are out of sight when in their nests. However, they spend a lot of time sitting on the water below the cliffs, and the safest way to watch them, for both puffins and people, is from the footpath between Plémont and Grève de Lecq, looking down to the water. The various vantage points, benches and bunkers along the footpath are good spots to watch puffins and other seabirds from.

The public is also invited to join one of the free ‘Puffin Watches’ that will take place at Plémont over the Easter holiday break. For further details please consult the Facebook pages of Jersey Birding Tours and Jersey Wildlife.

Its Jersey’s 20th Great Garden Bird Watch!

The 20th Jersey Great Garden Bird Watch will be held over the weekend of 6th and 7th February

20 years? Yes, the annual Action for Wildlife Jersey and Birds On The Edge garden bird count has reached this significant milestone. Although, it won’t have been undertaken in circumstances quite like these before! Last year, little did we know what was coming. The count has a long tradition of seeming to encourage bad weather so our fear was of the Pest From the West. Did it happen? Does anyone remember February 2020? Well, you warmed up with the RSPB’s UK garden bird watch last weekend so now take part in Jersey’s own watch, one with great significance to our understanding our closest bird neighbours. We really do need as many households to take part as possible. And what else were you planning on doing? 

Song thrushes, who gave us cause for alarm only a few years ago as populations dropped rapidly, show signs that they may be recovering in Jersey. This rather strident singer is getting warmed up around now so, while half their number seem to quietly go about searching for worms on the lawn, the other half sit up in the leafless trees and belt out their (and I’m going to say it) rather monotonous song. Let’s hope that song thrushes feature in this year’s count.

Method for recording

The method of the count is very straight forward. Basically you just need to choose one of the two weekend dates (6th or 7th February), look out into the garden for a few minutes, or as long as you like (I just look out the kitchen window) and write down what birds you see and the maximum number of each species. And, of course, red squirrels count again as birds this year. Just for one weekend!

Once you’ve counted the birds (and squirrels) on your chosen day please fill out the form online here.  Alternatively you can download a form here and email to birdsote@gmail.com or fill out the form in the JEP. This year, we unfortunately won’t be involving the garden centres because of the pandemic restrictions. 

Your observations are of great importance in our understanding of the situation with the birds that we live closest too. Don’t forget, how these birds are fairing in the 21st century says a lot about our own lives and our own environment. You can read about the results of our survey to date in the Jersey Garden Birdwatch Report 2002-2020 here

 

A Christmas card to all our supporters

This Christmas is going to a bit different for everyone. One thing that has not changed though is our gratitude for your support over the year.

Below is an eCard from us to you. To see the festive animation, click on the link and download to view in PowerPoint.

https://www.slideshare.net/ElizabethCorry/birds-on-the-edge-christmas-2020

Alternatively click through the slides below whilst humming a festive tune and let you imagination run wild.

December volunteer activity

Sunday 13th December 2020 –– La Coupe, St Martin 10:00-13.00

From Jersey Conservation Volunteers

****Please note that due to COVID-19, you will need to book a place to attend this task through Eventbright here and numbers will be restricted to a total of 25.

It is also advised to bring your own tools, work gloves and a mug for refreshments****

Task Come along for a morning of tree planting with the National Trust for Jersey. As part of the Trust’s ongoing re-wilding efforts we will be planting various species of native trees in a previously neglected corner of La Coupe along the north east coast of the island.

Meeting point will be at La Coupe, St Martin where you park for the beach.

If you have any questions, or if you wish to be added to the Jersey Conservation Volunteers email list, please contact either Julia Clively (tel: 441600; j.clively@gov.je) or Jon Parkes (tel: 483193; jon.parkes@nationaltrust.je).

The site La Coupe, St Martin. Jersey phone directory Map 5 (inset) LL8, Google maps here

Parking There is limited space so once this is full we will have some parking available in the field opposite La Coupe House at the top of the hill. Rangers will be on hand to direct.

Tools needed Due to COVID restrictions we are discouraging the sharing of tools and ensuring that any borrowed tools are disinfected before and after the event. With this in mind, if you have your own spade, or cutting tools such as shears and loppers then please do bring them along.

Clothing needed Please dress for the weather, you will also need to bring gardening gloves and wear decent footwear as the terrain can be quite slippery and muddy.  

Children All are welcome, young or old although we do ask that volunteers under 16 years of age are directly supervised by a parent or guardian.

Refreshments We will be finishing at 1pm where we will be able to have a socially distanced cuppa and piece of cake.

Birds in the Channel Islands – an update

A little later than most years, well 2020 has had its challenges; we are pleased to update the list of the bird species recorded in the Channel Islands. As in previous years, the list has been updated to include all birds recorded across the islands up to the end of the last year, in this case 2019. So no bearded vultures yet.

Firsts and other notable records

One species, booted warbler, joined the list after sightings in both Guernsey and Alderney in September. This warbler, more at home in eastern Europe and Central Asia, was the 378th species on our list.

There were further firsts for individual islands, a pallid harrier in Guernsey and a desert wheatear in Jersey while Alderney saw its first dusky warbler, barred warbler, thrush nightingale and olive-backed pipit.

Sark saw its second ever mute swan, Jersey a second pallid harrier and Caspian tern and Alderney its second common rosefinch. Jersey’s second and Guernsey’s third glossy ibis may be the sign of things to come as this waterbird increases its range and numbers, following on from all those egrets.

A good year for some

There were some notable arrivals in the islands with common cranes seen in Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney in October although numbers varied suggesting that while the birds may have all been from one migrating flock it didn’t seem that the same individuals were moving between islands.

Another much wanted species, European nightjar, was recorded on all four of our main islands in 2019 with one staying ten days in Sark in spring. The one autumn record was, sadly, of a dead bird picked up in Jersey. Cirl bunting continues to breed in Jersey but this year bred in Guernsey too where birds were present for much of the year: a single was seen in Alderney.

Updates

Away from the birds themselves, the latest report details local birding groups and how to contact them. A pleasing addition this year is the Facebook group Sark Bird Sightings

Competition?

There’s no way birders ever become competitive, but for the record there have been 338 bird species recorded in Jersey, 331 in Guernsey, 303 in Alderney and 227 in Sark. Alderney passed the magic 300 mark with their olive-backed pipit in April.

Download the updated report A Working List of the Birds of the Channel Islands here

November volunteer activity

Sunday 15th November 2020 –– L’Etacquerel Fort, Trinity 10:00-12.30

From Jersey Conservation Volunteers

****Please note that due to Covid-19, you will need to book a place to attend this task through Eventbright here and numbers will be restricted to a total of 35.

It is also advised to bring your own tools, work gloves and a mug for refreshments****

Please note this event is one week later than originally advertised

Task The old stone walls of L’Etacquerel Fort provide excellent places for wall lizards to live, they also provide great habitat for ivy! The ivy is now taking over and we need to remove some of it to ensure the lizard habitat is not lost.

Please meet at the car park at 10am to allow us to walk over to the site and start work for 10.30am. We will finish for 1pm. If you have any questions, or if you wish to be added to the Jersey Conservation Volunteers email list, please contact either Julia Clively (tel: 441600; j.clively@gov.je) or Jon Parkes (tel: 483193; jon.parkes@nationaltrust.je).

The site L’Etacquel Fort, Trinity. Jersey phone directory Map 5 EE7, Google maps here

Parking Parking at the L’Etacquel Fort car park – a 10 minute walk from the site

Tools needed Due to Covid restrictions we are discouraging the sharing of tools and ensuring that any borrowed tools are disinfected before and after the event. With this in mind, if you have your own secateurs or cutting implements and gardening gloves, please bring them along.

Clothing needed Please dress for the weather and bear in mind the North Coast of Jersey can be pretty bleak! Sturdy boots are recommended.

Children All are welcome, young or old although we do ask that volunteers under 16 years of age are directly supervised by a parent or guardian.

Refreshments Kim will be setting up her pop up café to treat you all when work finishes at about 12.30. Please bring your own mug to save us using disposables!

 

If you thought biodiversity looked bad in the UK, Europe isn’t looking any better

From BirdLife International

Following the news of the UK’s disappearing biodiversity, a new report from the EU does not give great grounds for hope. Europe’s nature is disappearing under unsustainable farming and expanding towns.

The European Environment Agency’s and the European Commission’s new report on the State of Nature in the EU is released. This is an important document and dataset that will help guide decision- and policy-making in many sectors over the next decade.

The State of Nature report gathers the information reported by Member States under the Birds and Habitats Directives. It showcases analyses and insights based on this information and describes the state of nature in the EU between 2013 and 2018. This includes the EU population status of birds and the conservation status of habitats and non-bird species, and the very serious pressures and threats all face. It also highlights the successes and shortcomings of current measures being undertaken in nature conservation, and the urgent need for restoration to improve specific species and habitats. The report also looks at the contribution of the Natura 2000 network to protecting and conserving habitats and species, and evaluates the EU’s progress towards Target 1 and Target 3 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.

State of Nature in the EU – overall highlights

Overall the statistics in the State of Nature report tell a sorry tale. It shows that with regard to birds, four in ten bird species in Europe have a poor or bad status, with almost a third of all bird species experiencing continuous declines over the last 12 years.

At the top of the list of the pressures and threats responsible for this sad state of biodiversity in the EU are unsustainable agriculture and forestry practices, urbanisation and pollution. Each of these threaten species and habitats, and when combined can cause even greater damage. Looking at birds in particular, unsustainable agriculture tops the bill, closely followed by urbanisation and then unsustainable forestry practices.  Many EU protected species and habitats, such as the saker falcon, the Danube salmon, grasslands and dunes, face an uncertain future unless more is urgently done to reverse the situation.

On top of this, environmental laws and policies such as the EU Nature Directives, are often not well implemented in certain Member States. The fact that eight in ten habitats and over six in ten non-bird species which are protected under Annex I of the Habitats Directive as well as four out of ten bird species in the EU have a poor or bad EU status means that not enough is being done to ensure their protection and conservation and it is high time for everyone to up their nature conservation game if we are to survive.

Reasons to worry – genuine and non-genuine changes, top pressures and threats causing declines in birds

Regarding birds, initially the situation could be seen as more positive than for other species groups or for habitats, but these groups are not comparable as only species and habitats protected on Annex 1 of the Habitats Directive were assessed compared to all birds species.  Around half of the bird species in the EU having a good EU status, however, this proportion is actually slightly smaller than that from the last reporting period (State of Nature in the EU 2007-2012). Reflecting this, the proportion of bird species in poor and bad status has slightly increased in the last six years, now reaching 40%; and although some of this change is due in part to a mix of changes in data quality and survey and analysis methods, genuine species deterioration is also a key factor.

Examples from case studies

Not all the news is bad however. Conservation efforts all over the world have shown that species can bounce back from the brink and conservation in the EU is no exception. Thanks to huge policy and on-the-ground conservation effort including LIFE projects, the elaboration of international Species Action Plans, international Memoranda of Understanding on specific species under the Bonn Convention for Migratory Species, and protection under the Natura 2000 Network, species like the aquatic warbler that almost entirely disappeared from the EU as fens and mires were drained, ploughed over and lost to agriculture, have seen population improvement since 2011. The red kite has made a spectacular comeback after suffering huge declines in the past due to persecution, pesticides and changes in agricultural practices. Although still small, thanks to supplementary feeding and specific captive breeding and reintroduction schemes, the population of bearded vultures is also on the increase in the EU.

These examples show however that a huge amount of resources need to be invested to improve these species’ plight. Nature restoration will always be more demanding and expensive than maintaining nature in a good state, and it is therefore doubly important, not just on an ecological level but  economically, to make the most of the healthy patches of nature we have left and make sure we do not lose or degrade them further.

Nevertheless, we are overall losing species on a large scale and fast. Birds of prey for example, such as harriers and falcons, are seeing their numbers decline, with half of the harrier species present in the EU and six out of ten falcon species having decreasing population trends.

Seabirds are also suffering from an increasing number of pressures and threats. Although some seabirds have improved in status, most are not only pressured by invasive species and bycatch, but also by disturbance from recreational activities and marine harvesting of fish and shellfish, the latter which also impacts them by decreasing the overall availability of food, and all of which have led to many seabirds species having a poor or bad EU status.  

This is why we need to take immediate action to tackle the most widespread and concerning threats to biodiversity. On top of these widespread threats, more species-specific or upcoming threats like those specific to marine species, or those related to climate change can quickly tip the scales and add to the myriad of other widespread threats already present. Governments need to take action immediately and efficiently if we do not want to see the trends we are seeing now precipitate our European species and ecosystems to the point of no return.

The State of Nature in EU and the EU biodiversity Strategies

It is clear from the new State of Nature report that the aims of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 have not been achieved, with only the non-bird species group almost meeting the set target whilst the habitats and birds targets are still well behind.

The new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the Farm to Fork Strategy, both of which are core elements of the European Green Deal set new ambitious targets for the coming decades and bring hope in the form of new goals and targets. The biodiversity strategy in particular, with its new aims to strengthen and enlarge the existing network of protected areas, and restore and maintain healthy ecosystems, will help ensure that bird and non-bird species alike will continue to have a sustainable home in the EU.

Download the complete report State of nature in the EU: Results from reporting under the nature directives 2013-2018 here

 

Join The Global Bird Weekend 17 & 18 October 2020

From Global Birding

Global Birding would like to have as many people as possible join in the Global Bird Weekend 17 and 18 October.

Covid-19 Lockdown meant many people became more aware of their local natural surroundings.  They want everyone to celebrate the love for nature and birds across the world in their own local areas or “patch”.

Part of the weekend event will include eBird’s October Big Day when it is aimed to create a world record for the largest number of birds seen by the greatest number of people on this peak migration weekend.

It is hoped that at least 25,000 participants will go out birdwatching on Saturday 17 October 2020 and report what they see using eBird. The goal is to record more than 6,000 bird species!

How do I take part?

Global Birding are working in association with eBird, which is a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA. 

  1. Get an eBird account – this is free to all users
  2. On Saturday 17 October 2020, go out birdwatching and enjoy what you see – with family, friends, groups or just take time out on your own (register here).
  3. Enter what you see and/or here on eBird
  4. Watch the sightings roll in on eBird’s Global Bird Weekend October Big Day page
  5. Keep posting your photos and videos during the day on our social media pages #globalbirdweekend #globalbirding
  6. On Sunday 18 October 2020, add your own photos, videos, field sketches and messages to share your experiences with the global audience. Keep up to date on Global Birding’s social media pages over the weekend and beyond #globalbirdweekend #globalbirding,

This year, Global Birding is supporting BirdLife International’s vital conservation project to stop the illegal trade in birds. Did you know there are now more birds in cages in Java than in the country’s natural habitat?

October volunteer activity

Sunday 11th October 2020 –– Mourier Valley, St John 10.00-12.30

From Jersey Conservation Volunteers

****Please note that due to Covid-19, you will need to book a place to attend this task through Eventbrite (here) and numbers will be restricted to a total of 35.

It is also advised that you bring your own tools, work gloves and a mug for refreshments****

Task Following on from last February’s task of tree planting at Mourier Valley, we’re asking the JCV to assist again this year, by helping us cut and clear the bracken covered valley edges ahead of this season’s tree planting. We will also be piling the bracken litter to be used as mulch when the trees are planted

Please meet at the car park at 10am to allow us to walk over to the site and start work for 10.30am. We will finish for 1pm.

If you have any questions, or if you wish to be added to the Jersey Conservation Volunteers email list, please contact either Julia Clively (tel: 441600; j.clively@gov.je) or Jon Parkes (tel: 483193; jon.parkes@nationaltrust.je).

The site Meet at Sorel Point top public car park (Jersey phone directory Map 3, R2) and Google maps here 

Parking Sorel Point top public car park

Tools needed Due to Covid restrictions we are discouraging the sharing of tools and ensuring that any borrowed tools are disinfected before and after the event. With this in mind, if you have your own sickles, rakes, forks or gardening gloves, please bring them along.

Clothing needed Please dress for the weather and bear in mind how exposed the site is on the North Coast. Sturdy boots are recommended as we will be working on some sloped gradients. 

Children All are welcome, young or old although we do ask that volunteers under 16 years of age are directly supervised by a parent or guardian.

Refreshments Kim will be setting up her pop up café to treat you all when work finishes at about 12.30.

 

 

The Inter-Island Environment Meeting 2020 is this week

The Inter-Island Environment Meeting 2020 (IIEM) will be held this week

Due to travel restrictions to Guernsey, this year’s IIEM will be held via Zoom.

It is a special year as 2020 marks; the 20th Anniversary of the IIEMs, the end of the UN’s Decade of Biodiversity and the beginning of the UN’s Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. We do hope you can join us to help celebrate these landmarks.

The meeting will be held over two days: Thursday 17th 09:40-14:30 and Friday 18th September from 10:00-14:30.

There will be series of short talks in the morning and a workshop in the afternoon.

For full details, timetables, and to register for the event, please visit the Eventbrite links below:  

https://iiem2020day1.eventbrite.co.uk

https://iiem2020day2.eventbrite.co.uk

In order to attend the meeting you are required to register to both days using the above links. Please note – you are still required to register through Eventbrite even if you have already emailed to request a place at the IIEM.