These shocking statistics are contained in the State of UK’s Birds 2012. Published by a coalition of conservation organisations, it charts the ups and downs of the nation’s bird populations over recent decades. This year’s report has raised fresh concerns for the fate of two wintering seaducks, whose range in winter is strongly associated with Scotland, the velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca) and the long tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis). Both have suffered massive declines in the Baltic Sea, which have been mirrored in Scotland, where the bulk of the UK population are found. Numbers have fallen so sharply (65% and 60% respectively since the first Baltic Sea survey in 1992) that both species are now considered threatened with extinction globally. Another suite of species to have suffered particularly significant declines are seabirds, of which Scotland holds 45% of Europe’s breeding population.
Since 1986, when a national seabird-monitoring programme began, 10 of the 18 monitored seabird species have suffered long-term declines, with populations of Arctic skua (Stercorarius parasiticus) and roseate tern (Sterna dougallii) declining by around three quarters (72% and 75% respectively) during that period. As such, both species are red-listed as of high conservation concern, with the roseate tern edging close to extinction in Scotland.
Similarly, kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) numbers have more than halved (55%) over the same period , while other once abundant gull species, such as the herring gull (Larus argentatus) and great black-backed gull (Larus marinus), have declined by 24% and 35% respectively.
Source: Surfbirds, 21 November 2012