We are very sorry to have to announce that James Ferguson-Lees, President of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society, died on the 11th of January at the age of 88. James moved to the village of Rode in Somerset in the late 1970s, and in 1984 he carried out a breeding bird survey of the Longleat Estate and later he became involved, together with John Pollard, a founder member and long-time Treasurer of WOS, in a project to install Pied Flycatcher nest boxes at Longleat.
.....to Parliament seeking a moratorium on the hunting of critically declining wading birds. Woodcock, snipe and golden plover are shot in the UK despite serious, ongoing population declines. Chris is proposing that a moratorium should be imposed to allow the impact of shooting to be established by independent scientific investigation and any necessary regulation introduced to ensure that shooting is sustainable.
At the recent Marlborough Downs NEP Spring Celebration, Matt Prior, Conservation Officer for WOS was named as MDNEP Wildlife Champion 2016. MDNEP is a farmer led project which aims to enhance this superb area of Wiltshire farmland for wildlife, community and access. Matt was one of several speakers during the evening and gave a talk about the ringing and monitoring of farmland birds.
Many members of the WOS will already be subscribers to British Birds or may have taken up trial offers. Whether or not, you may like to receive their free e-newsletter every month. This offers a flavour of what has been published recently and what is in the pipeline in areas such as book of the month, news and comment, the rarities section and special offers.
Birds of Conservation Concern 4, compiled by a coalition of conservation and monitoring organisations, has just been published. Species which occur regularly in the UK are assessed for inclusion on one of three lists, Red, Amber, Green with birds on the Red List being of highest conservation concern.
There are now 67 species on the Red List, 96 on the Amber List and 81 on the Green List.
A rare and spectacular winter visitor to Wiltshire, Smew is a duck whose habitat is changing because of global warming and it is doing twice as well in conservation areas protected by the EU, research has shown.
Scientific studies have shown that the occurence of wintering Smew have been spreading northwards across Europe as temperatures rise. A study of wetland data shows that nearly a third of the birds now spend winter in north-east Europe, compared with just 6% two decades ago.
In that region, Smew populations have grown twice as fast within Special Protection Areas established under the EU Birds Directive.
For more details follow the link:
'Through The Wire' tells the story of the British POWs who survived incarceration in German camps in World War Two by studying the birds that flew freely all around them.
Based on real data (latitude, longitude and height) from the University of Amsterdam the animation initially shows the tracks of 12 birds, but then concentrates on a pair - male and female, as they migrate south in Autumn 2010 from the Veluwe forest in the Netherlands to warmer weather on the African coast (Liberia, Ghana and Cameroon). After wintering in Africa, in Spring 2011 the birds fly back. But en route we see the female lose her way - possibly due to unfavourable winds. After a long journey the male arrives back in the Veluwe forest and waits for her.
Follow this link to watch the animation: