• Southern elephant seals almost completely gone from Gough Island

    Today’s blog has been written by Christopher Jones, on the Gough team’s latest paper.

    That is an awfully large boulder on the beach over there, oh wait, oh no that is not a boulder, it’s moving, must be an elephant seal!

    Background Information

    Southern elephant seals are the largest of all the seals and in fact the largest carnivore on earth. The males can reach four meters in length and weigh up to…

    • 7 Jul 2020
  • Larks descending – but hope is on the rise

    What's the latest on the Liben Lark? Simon Wootton, Senior Conservation Scientist, gives us an update on what's happening next on the plains. 

    In 2009, a BBC headline spoke of an “African lark soon to be extinct”. The bird in question, the Liben Lark, is one of the oldest species of lark in the world, but is now found in just two small areas of degraded grasslands in Ethiopia, over 600km apart. Without intervention…

    • 3 Jul 2020
  • New Director of Science announced

    Professor Jeremy Wilson will be taking on the new role of Director of Science, leading the RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science.

    Following a PhD and postdoctoral research on bird behaviour and ecology at the University of Edinburgh, Jeremy spent ten years leading studies of the ecology and conservation of farmland birds at the British Trust for Ornithology and University of Oxford. He joined the RSPB’s Conservation…

    • 30 Jun 2020
  • What Does a Godwit Scientist do in Lockdown?

    This latest post has been written by Mo Verhoeven, RSPB Senior Research Assistant, as part of Project Godwit, and was first published on the Back from the Brink website.

    On January 14th this year, Jelle Loonstra and I handed in our joint PhD on “The behaviour and ecology of the Black-tailed Godwit”. The next day, I was on an airplane to Chile with the mission of outfitting Hudsonian Godwits with transmitters to record…

    • 30 Jun 2020
  • Reinventing myself on a journey from the nanometre scale to the macroscale

    The thought of changing career can often be quite daunting. RSPB Science Fundraiser Rick Lewis explains how he’s given up the university life to move into the world of wildlife, along with some words of advice.

    Personal milestones in my career at the RSPB are starting to rack up: I’m coming up to 6 months in post and have worked from home longer than I have at the office, and my first scientific paper as an RSPB…

    • 26 Jun 2020
  • National insect week: growing cover crops for insects

    Today’s blog for National Insect Week is by Senior Conservation Scientist, Dave Buckingham on the importance of farmland planting for insects – and birds

    Understanding the ecology and requirements of insects is a key part of RSPB research into designing solutions to farmland bird declines. For most declining farmland bird species, insects are an essential food source in the breeding season, without which birds…

    • 25 Jun 2020
  • Deadwood Beetle Monitoring with Cairngorms Connect

    Deadwood forms a critical part of the natural woodland system and in this update project scientist Dr Pip Gullett explores its importance along with recent work to monitor the impacts of restoration work as part of Cairngorms Connect.

    Spend a few minutes walking through a healthy Caledonian pinewood and you’ll quickly see what a complex, dynamic place it is. From areas of dense canopy cover to sunny clearings, from young…

    • 22 Jun 2020
  • How to save an albatross – the boring way

    Celebrating the inaugural World Albatross Day, Bycatch Programme Manager Rory Crawford tells us about the work of the team tasked with protecting these amazing birds

    It’s the very first World Albatross Day, so on a ‘Saving Species’ blog from someone that works with the Albatross Task Force (ATF), perhaps you’ll be hoping to read about the careful unhooking of a snagged wandering albatross, watching it…

    • 19 Jun 2020
  • From Tropicbirds to Puffins; turning Adoration into Conservation

    Guest blog by Sophie Elliott, Project Puffin UK Intern

    Almost three years ago to the day I found myself sitting atop the frigid cliffs of Sumburgh Head in the Shetland Islands, trying to keep my binoculars steady as I attempted to count puffins sitting on the waves far below for the Seabirds Count fourth National Seabird Census.

    Photo of the Seabirds Count Census being undertaken in the Shetland Islands in 2017

    I was…

    • 18 Jun 2020
  • The threats that kill Egyptian vultures

    After the catastrophic declines seen in Asia's vultures, are their kin faring any better? In an article published yesterday, the Guardian reports on the status of vultures in Africa. Today's blog is by RSPB Senior Conservation Scientist, Steffen Oppel, reporting further on the reasons for vulture declines.

    Since 2010, our project to save Egyptian Vultures on the Balkans has equipped 61 individual vultures with tracking…

    • 14 Jun 2020
  • A biodiversity target based on species extinctions

    In this blog, Professor Richard Gregory (Head of Monitoring, Conservation Science) describes a new paper, on which he is a co-author, that proposes a single target for the recovery of nature to inform a quickening debate on global biodiversity goals. This is set in the context of the RSPB’s hopes for the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

    Defining a target

    Despite all good intentions, biodiversity is on a…

    • 12 Jun 2020
  • From sandeels to seabirds

    Today’s puffin blog has been written by Project Officer Chantal Macleod-Nolan on how food is changing in a warming ocean

    Atlantic Puffins with their colourful bill and inquisitive nature are quite the charismatic seabird. They are also site faithful, returning to their burrows year after year. In previous years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting islands such as the Shiants and the Farnes where it’s fantastic to…

    • 11 Jun 2020
  • Nature’s contribution to a stable climate

    Today’s blog has been written by Rob Field, RSPB Senior Conservation Scientist, discussing his new paper which quantifies the importance of looking after habitats for climate change, as well as nature

    This year was to have been a crunch point for international efforts to stem the loss of biodiversity and restrict climate change to below 2°C of warming. We should have seen thousands of delegates gather at the…

    • 8 Jun 2020
  • Cases of foreign egg adoption by Brown skuas on Marion and Gough Islands

    Today’s blog is by Alexis Osborne, Field Assistant on Gough Island

    We have spent two years on Gough Island and have observed many unusual things, but Gough never ceases to amaze us. In December 2018, while monitoring the Critically Endangered Gough bunting Rowettia goughensis, I noticed a Brown skua Stercorarius antarcticus incubating an unusual egg at Gonydale, an inland region at c. 500 m elevation on Gough Island…

    • 1 Jun 2020
  • Summary of the 9th Annual meeting of Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE)

    Today’s blog has been written by RSPB Head of Vulture Programme Chris Bowden, Senior Conservation Scientist John Mallord and Research Assistant Jenny Donelan.

    Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) is a consortium consisting of 24 organisations, all of which have one common goal, to save Asia’s endangered Vultures. These organisations all agree that they will prioritise and help implement actions to…

    • 29 May 2020
  • The parallel lives of puffins

    Today’s blog is by Puffineer volunteer, Ali Barrett

    Before the lockdown in mid-March, I took a boat trip out to the Farne Islands in the hope of saying "hello" and then "goodbye" to the puffins! Sadly, their four-month visit seems likely to conclude before we are "released".

    They've been gone since the end of July last year, out alone in the North Sea and Atlantic for eight months,…

    • 27 May 2020
  • Birds, Bees and Butter

    In today’s blog Juliet Vickery, Head of International Conservation Science, talks about her new paper published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

    Existing in a world 'on pause' under the covid19 pandemic has certainly heightened awareness of the extent to which our use, and misuse, of the world around us can have devastating effects on our own wellbeing. But, whilst we talk of the value of nature-based solutions…

    • 26 May 2020
  • Lockdown library

    A well-written book is a wonderful find. They motivate us to feel and can inspire us to make changes in our lives, or comfort us during difficult times. We learn new things, or go on a voyage of rediscovery. They help us feel connected, not just to the world envisaged by the author but to other people who have also found joy in that particular book.

    With many fantastic natural history and popular science books to choose…

    • 22 May 2020
  • New tricks, old questions. Shedding light on the ecology of the hawfinch

    Today’s guest blog is by Ewan Stenhouse, PhD student at Cardiff University in conjunction with the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science (case partner), supervised by Dr Pablo Orozco-terWengel, Professor William Symondson and Dr Ian Vaughan. The RSPB supervisor is Paul Bellamy.

    Birds are ubiquitous throughout the world, especially within the UK, with many species regularly seen in gardens and other green spaces…

    • 21 May 2020
  • Puffarazzi is back for 2020!

    Previous years of the Puffarazzi project have generated lots of fantastic data urgently needed to help save one of Britain’s best-loved birds, the Puffin, but there is still much more to find out. Today’s blog has been written by new Puffineer Project Manager, Connie Tremlett who’s joining the project this year as a Conservation Scientist to help do just that.

    It is now the time of year when Puffins…

    • 19 May 2020
  • Lord May of Oxford obituary

    Today's blog has been written by Professor Richard Gregory, Head of Monitoring at the Centre for Conservation Science, and pays tribute to Lord Robert May

    The very sad news came out this week that Lord Robert ‘Bob’ May had died at the age of 84.  Bob May’s influence on science has been huge on several levels, including the science itself, the communication of science and the place of science in society.…

    • 12 May 2020
  • Using science to inform curlew recovery

    It's World Curlew Day! Today's blog by Dr David Douglas, Principal Conservation Scientist; Dr Irena Tomankova, Conservation Scientist, and Sarah Sanders 

    The plight of the Eurasian curlew is a major conservation priority. Based on the combination of global conservation status (IUCN Near-Threatened), the global importance of the UK breeding population (19-27%) and the rapid decline of the UK breeding population…

    • 21 Apr 2020
  • An all-new, in-depth look into the diet of a familiar face: the blue tit

    Today's guest blog is by Jack Shutt, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Manchester Metropolitan University, and a member of Phenoweb, an academic team which explores the relationship between woodland ecology and climate.

    Worldwide, there are many species of small birds that live in trees and mainly eat invertebrates. However, finding out exactly what invertebrates they are eating has always been tricky and is not well…

    • 17 Apr 2020
  • Marine Protected Areas - where they should be and how they work

    Today's blog is by RSPB's Senior Conservation Scientist Steffen Oppel on the importance of protecting ocean areas for wildlife. 

    By the year 2020 (which is...now!) the Convention on Biological Diversity had aspired to designate 10% of our oceans as protected areas for the benefit of wildlife. This target has also been used by national governments to assign marine areas under their jurisdiction a protected status, with…

    • 15 Apr 2020
  • How are waterbirds faring in the UK? Results from 2018/19 are in

    The latest blog from Simon Wotton, RSPB’s Senior Conservation Scientist, is looking at the latest survey data for our waterbirds and what this means for some species.

    The 38th Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) report for 2018/19 has just been published. WeBS is the principal scheme for monitoring the populations of the UK's wintering waterbirds, providing an important indicator of the status of waterbird populations and…

    • 2 Apr 2020