Birds flock to family's garden haven

A family of birdwatchers created a wildlife haven in their garden after the amount of birds visiting their feeders decreased.

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Scientists get birds eye view using 'gannet cam'

Scientists have captured footage of what it is like to fly with the UK's largest seabird.

Researchers at Grassholm natural reserve in Wales attached miniature cameras to gannets nesting in the area, hoping to shed some light on the birds' behaviour.

Gannets up close as captured by the mini cam. Credit: Andy Hay/RSPB/PA

The footage shows the seabirds flying high above the Pembrokeshire coastline while ships pass below.

Watch: Video footage sheds light on birds' behaviour

"Seabirds spend most of their time at sea away from their nesting sites, making them difficult to study," scientist Steve Votier said.

Flying with gannets. Credit: Andy Hay/RSPB/PA

The lightweight camera works alongside a GPS unit that tracks birds' flights and measures how long they are flying, feeding or resting.

It also revealed how the birds make use of waste from fishing boats, and captured the gannets' high-speed dives to catch fish.

Conservationists believe the results could help to inform the protection of marine species in Wales.

"The goal is to continue this work in the long term to help provide a sustainable future for gannets and other marine life," Mr Votier said.

Fall in bird numbers is ‘alarming’

A starling in Blackheath in south-east London. Credit: Johnny Green/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The conservation director of the RSPB has warned that the “alarming” decline of bird species in the UK is continuing.

Martin Harper, commenting on the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey, said: “We know from the many people who take part in Big Garden Birdwatch every year that garden birds are incredibly precious to us and connect us to nature every day.

“But several of our familiar and best-loved species have been declining at alarming rates over the 34 years that the RSPB has been running the Birdwatch and this year's results show a continuing decline.”

Best-loved bird species continue to decline

A pair of juvenile Royal Starlings at Chester Zoo Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Some of the UK’s most threatened and best-loved bird species are continuing to decline, according to results from the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey, released today.

Starlings hit an all-time low in the RSPB's survey last year and their numbers sunk by a further 16% in gardens this year.

Numbers of house sparrows dropped by 17% in gardens compared to 2012, while bullfinches and dunnocks fell by 20% and 13% respectively.

A starling in a garden in Bottesford, Nottinghamshire. Credit: Tim Goode/PA Wire/Press Association Images

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RSPCA treats guillemots covered in sticky substance

It could be days before the true scale of the pollution spill affecting sea birds on the south coast of England is known, wildlife experts have said.

A guillemot is rinsed thoroughly after being washed in washing up liquid and margerine. Credit: PA

Conservationists believe many birds covered in a mystery sticky substance could have been blown out to sea by prevailing winds - leading to yet more fatalities as they are unable to feed and become cold and exhausted.

A Guillemot at an RSPCA centre near Taunton is covered with margarine to help break down the sticky substance found on the birds. Credit: PA
Electrolyte fluid is used to rehydrate a guillemot. Credit: PA

'White, odourless and globular' substance stuck to birds

The RSPCA says 236 guillemots, 17 razor bills and a single herring gull are being treated at West Hatch. The society said the vast majority of the sea birds were rescued from Chesil Beach in Dorset but others have come from the Isle of Wight and Cornwall:

We just do not know what this substance is. It is white, odourless and globular, like a silicone sealer. The best way I can think to describe it is 'sticky Vaseline'. The numbers of the birds coming in have been growing and sadly there were quite a few dead birds this morning. We are still down at the beach though collecting and trying to save as many of them as we can. We are expecting this rescue mission to continue through the weekend.

– John Pollockwho, RSPCA deputy Chief inspector

More tests to track down source of oil spill

It's a refined mineral oil, which is a colourless and odourless substance, and it's related to petroleum jelly. We don't know where it came from and we need to do a lot more testing on this substance to try and track it back to its source. There are people speculating it could be from a ship, that's possible but we just don't know yet. We need to look at what happened and if appropriate take legal action and also, frankly, shame the people.

– Tony Whitehead, RSPB

More sea birds 'could die' from pollution spill

More sea birds could die from a pollution spill that has contaminated England's south coast, wildlife experts say. A change in wind direction is now blowing many birds out to sea and could lead to more fatalities in the coming days as they become cold and exhausted.

One of approximately 100 seabirds which were washed up on the south coast covered in a sticky white substance
One of approximately 100 seabirds which were washed up on the south coast covered in a sticky white substance Credit: PA Wire

Scientists from the Environment Agency identified the mystery substance as a refined mineral oil, but not from an animal or vegetable-based oil and ruled out palm oil.

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