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Autumnwatch 2012 (1 Viewer)

Robin Edwards

Well-known member
Who needs government incursions then? There's only 2,500,000 of the blighters. Full scale assault that's what we need.

John

So here's a thought. If UK wildlife was truely natural and native species untouched by humans, would the "natural" predators no longer present be any different to the Grey Squirrel that has filled this niche?

I was interested to learn that in ancient history, Wild Cat and Pine Martin would have been present throughout England, Scotland and Wales as well as Red Squirrel and Goshawk (of correct ssp) so wonder what the net predator effect has really been on bird species given otherwise persecution of natural predators, large-scale habitat loss and introduction of alien species?
 

AlfArbuthnot

Well-known member
I was interested to learn that in ancient history, Wild Cat and Pine Martin would have been present throughout England, Scotland and Wales

Not ancient history, but as recent as about 1850 in England.

so wonder what the net predator effect has really been on bird species given otherwise persecution of natural predators, large-scale habitat loss and introduction of alien species?

You can get an idea by looking at the density of those species in the only area of natural European woodland, in Poland and Belarus. The density of Great Tits and Robins there is about 1/10th what it is here, largely due to predation (especially nest predation by martens).
 

Robin Edwards

Well-known member
Not ancient history, but as recent as about 1850 in England.

You can get an idea by looking at the density of those species in the only area of natural European woodland, in Poland and Belarus. The density of Great Tits and Robins there is about 1/10th what it is here, largely due to predation (especially nest predation by martens).

True in both cases Alf although I was thinking back to a much earlier time when the UK landscape was impacted by a small human population surviving as part of the food-chain.

My point remains, does the UK Grey Squirrel (and maybe feral Cat) population in Britain impact birdlife any less than an in-balance array of natural predators would have done? Your example of Poland/Belarus suggests that we would likely have less passerine birds than we do in the UK where we have greater suppression of natural predators but more alien predators such as Grey Squirrel?

I'm not playing squirrel-hugger here but sense an all-to easy approach to wanting to control predators as an answer to the inbalances we have inflicted and continue to inflict.

Final hyperthetical point - How would we feel if ilimination of all alien species were possible in the UK and full reintroduction of natural species resulted in the net effect of less birds and less avian biodiversity than we have now? I'm guessing that we would still be calling for control of predators! ;)
 

AlfArbuthnot

Well-known member
Studies looking at nest predation in the UK, and those testing whether Grey Squirrels had any impact, show that the impact of Grey Squirrels on birds due to predation is virtually zero. They are a very rare predator of nests where predators have been identified (from cameras or field signs), and there is no correlation between their numbers and low numbers of birds (except a mild correlation with Hawfinch and I think another? but that was not proof of cause and effect).

I doubt that Greys are any 'better or worse' than Reds were, and have simply taken over a similar squirrelly niche.
 

Helen O

Anything that flies
Ever watched a squirrel and rat fighting? Each time (to date), the rat 'wins' (i.e. the squirrel buggers off)!
 

Himalaya

Well-known member
Cant believe its over so quickly. The original format would have meant we still would have had at least one show left by now.
 
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