ONCE common Radnorshire birds are becoming rare and even endangered, according to 25-year records.

Pete Jennings, county bird recorder for Radnorshire since 1987, said the records show that two thirds of the breeding birds in Radnorshire are in decline.

“About 100 species of bird breed in Radnorshire each year and of those between 60 and 70 are going down in numbers. One of the most endangered is the lapwing which used to be a common bird with many hundreds of pairs in the county. Now there are just a few dozen at most. Autumn flocks of 250 to 1,000 were seen until the late 1970s but now there are just a few flocks of 10 to 20.

“Also, the curlew, willow tit, hawfinch and lesser spotted woodpecker are now rare breeding birds. The recent cold winter has had an effect on some smaller birds but nothing that will not be made up after a couple of milder winters.”

He said the reasons for the declines include grasslands with less cover for nesting, land drainage, loss of mature hedgerow trees, a huge increase in predator numbers,competition for nest sites, fewer racing pigeons passing through Mid Wales, climate change affecting some insect life and improved grain crops which do not drop their seed so easily during harvest.

He said it is not all bad news for the birdwatchers of Radnorshire though.
“On the plus side a few species are increasing; the obvious ones being the red kite and Canada goose, both of which were rare until the 1980s but are now widespread. Also the chiffchaff, blackcap and garden warbler are increasing from a very low point due to more areas of woodland being free from grazing.

“The big plus for birds in Radnorshire in recent years has been the change in the work of the Forestry Commission.”

If you have seen a lapwing or a curlew in Radnorshire this spring, please email Pete at radnorshirebirds@hotmail.com.