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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 12:43   #1
mr.sim
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Could the Sahara be the answer?!?

Everyone has been going on about how few migratory birds have returned this year, especially Swifts and hurindines. It isn't too late for a large influx to occur and bring the British numbers back up to normal, but it seems unlikely that it will ever happen.
I remembered that there was an unusual amount of rainfall in the Sahara Desert this Spring, and apparently a lot of plants grew as a result. This is one of the reasons for why we had such a huge number of Painted Lady butterflies entering the UK, as they had a midway staging post where the adults could breed (in the Sahara) and the offspring then came through Europe in abnormally large numbers.
Could this rainfall also be the reason why our birds have not arrived? I am thinking that this green area in the desert would have a lot of insects so lots of birds would be atrracted to feed. This could mean that many Swifts, House Martins, Swallows etc. are delayed on their migration or even halted altogether!
What does everyone think? Does anyone agree or am I just being stupid and refusing to accept that these species have taken a very bad hit in numbers...
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 12:55   #2
ChrisKten
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Rather than me reposting, have a look at the last 2 posts in this thread:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=144642

It's only about Swifts though.
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 16:16   #3
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Darn! I thought that was a good theory...never mind. Hopefully Swift numbers will soon stabalise and start to increase again.
Of interest, a new type of brick has been designed which is hollow and has a small hole for Swifts to get through. It is designed to be exactly the same size as normal bricks so that it can be incorperated into buildings without development problems. Hopefully this will be manufactured on a large scale and included in a number of buildings. Shame we can't really put out food for them though...
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 16:28   #4
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Darn! I thought that was a good theory...never mind. Hopefully Swift numbers will soon stabalise and start to increase again.
Of interest, a new type of brick has been designed which is hollow and has a small hole for Swifts to get through. It is designed to be exactly the same size as normal bricks so that it can be incorperated into buildings without development problems. Hopefully this will be manufactured on a large scale and included in a number of buildings. Shame we can't really put out food for them though...
Maybe the bit of publicity today will help, and the brick will be used.

It is a shame we can't feed Swifts, but hopefully providing more places to nest will help them just as much.

Also, there's no good reason for their theory to be correct, and yours wrong. Maybe further research is needed.
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Old Monday 22nd June 2009, 20:12   #5
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You have had a good shot at the reasons for the decline in swifts and swallows , but I suspect there much deeper underlining problems. These declines have been long term. Over the past 50 years we have had great changes in the countryside that have had negative impacts on bird food…. Insects.

There has been a polarisation in farm types. 50 years ago most farms were mixed growing a variety of root and cereal crops along with a more limited acerage of less common crops such as peas or beans. They also had grass areas for live stock grazing. Where you have livestock you also have drinking ponds so a further habitat was available to hold food recourses. In the past 30-40 years mono culture farms have become the norm in Eastern England being mainly arable with a restricted range of crops while Western England has become mainly livestock farms.

Here in the east the huge decline in livestock and change over to arable has lead to a sharp decline in the number of ponds , amount of animal dung , removal of miles of hedgerows increased use of sprays and frequent reseeding of meadows with fast growing rye grass that is of little use to birds. Habitat destruction had both physical effects of removing the homes birds need and also greatly reduced food supplies. Result less breeding space and less food = fewer birds. The whole answer is a little more complicated but until the landscape balance is returned we are unlikely to have the numbers of birds that were present 50 years ago.
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Old Tuesday 23rd June 2009, 11:01   #6
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You have had a good shot at the reasons for the decline in swifts and swallows , but I suspect there much deeper underlining problems. These declines have been long term. Over the past 50 years we have had great changes in the countryside that have had negative impacts on bird food…. Insects.

There has been a polarisation in farm types. 50 years ago most farms were mixed growing a variety of root and cereal crops along with a more limited acerage of less common crops such as peas or beans. They also had grass areas for live stock grazing. Where you have livestock you also have drinking ponds so a further habitat was available to hold food recourses. In the past 30-40 years mono culture farms have become the norm in Eastern England being mainly arable with a restricted range of crops while Western England has become mainly livestock farms.

Here in the east the huge decline in livestock and change over to arable has lead to a sharp decline in the number of ponds , amount of animal dung , removal of miles of hedgerows increased use of sprays and frequent reseeding of meadows with fast growing rye grass that is of little use to birds. Habitat destruction had both physical effects of removing the homes birds need and also greatly reduced food supplies. Result less breeding space and less food = fewer birds. The whole answer is a little more complicated but until the landscape balance is returned we are unlikely to have the numbers of birds that were present 50 years ago.

Hi Tideliner, I think you have presented an excellent synopsis on how the current state of the countryside has affected birds such as Swifts. Unless things radically change viz a viz food production policies; which seemingly have little regard for their long term effects on all wildlife in the countryside, then things inevitably will only get worse.
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