Friday, 5 December 2014

Owls soar again after mild winter: Our letter to The Times

Dear Sir

As well as being a good year for barn owls, it has also been a good year for some insects (report 3rd December).

Insects are a crucial food source for the young of many bird species. This year’s good summer has meant that insects have flourished and so too has the wild grey partridge population. According to the latest figures from our Partridge Count Scheme, we have seen a 42% level of chick survival because the newly hatched birds were able to feed well in their early weeks of life. Below 33% survival, grey partridge populations go into decline. This is extremely good news for this recovering farmland bird, which has suffered an 86% decline over the past 40 years.

Insect numbers are governed by many factors including the weather and farming techniques. It is noticeable that many more farmers are adopting techniques that allow them to produce insect rich covers in and around their arable fields. In a good year, birds such as grey partridges are reaping the benefits of this more wild friendly environment.

Professor Nick Sotherton
Director of Research
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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