• Using new methods to determine key prey of the Cuckoo

    Guest blog by Dr Lowell Mills – recent PhD graduate from the University of Exeter, in partnership with the RSPB

    In a University of Exeter and RSPB study published this month, we improve understanding, using DNA-sequencing and photographs taken by the public, of the range of caterpillars selected as prey by cuckoos, but also find some unexpected other prey items in the diet.  Better understanding the diet of cuckoos…

    • 22 Sep 2020
  • The European Grey Deal: building an airport in the heart of Portugal’s largest wetland

    Today’s guest blog has been written by José Alves, Conservation Ecologist at University of Aveiro, and Maria Dias, Marine Science Coordinator at BirdLife International, over the controversial decision to build a commercial airport in an area important for waterbirds.

    In our letter published today in Science, we highlight the contradiction between the recently appointed EU Commission’s intention to shift EU…

    • 18 Sep 2020
  • How changes in World Bank policy might impact biodiversity

    A blog by Jonathan Morley, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh in partnership with RSPB detailing a new paper that looks at how recent changes in World Bank policy might impact biodiversity conservation.

    The World Bank provides loans and grants to low income countries to finance development projects. These can be a wide range of projects including building infrastructure such as roads or suppling teaching materials…

    • 11 Sep 2020
  • Other Veterinary Drugs threat – Further implications of the latest publication

    The recently published pharmacy survey paper has further serious implications. This second blog post by Senior Conservation Scientist, John Mallord, explains why this is important both in Asia and worldwide

    A recently-published paper detailing the results of undercover pharmacy surveys highlighted the ongoing risk to South Asia’s vultures of the continued availability of diclofenac. Yet equally significant was the…

    • 10 Sep 2020
  • Small birds in a big world: where might Critically Endangered spoon-billed sandpipers go?

    Today’s blog is by Conservation Scientist, Tom Bradfer-Lawrence, on a new paper which will help our understanding of a long-distance migratory bird.

    The spoon-billed sandpiper, or spoonies as they’re affectionately called, are a Critically Endangered shorebird species. The best recent estimate, from 2014, was that there were only about 440 adults left in the world. With such a low population, continued urgent conservation…

    • 7 Sep 2020
  • Why the world needs vultures

    Today’s blog has been written by Senior Conservation Scientist, Steffen Oppel, for Vulture Awareness Day

    For the past half year, news around the world have been dominated by a coronavirus pandemic that has infected and killed millions of people. As countries and their citizens impose various lockdowns to reduce the spread of this pandemic, economies falter and the social construct of humanity is beginning to frail…

    • 4 Sep 2020
  • Asian Vulture Crisis: Diclofenac and other vulture-toxic drugs still widely available for veterinary use

    Today’s blog is by Senior Conservation Scientist, John Mallord, on a new paper detailing an undercover investigation into diclofenac.

    It has been over a decade since the Governments of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh banned the veterinary use of diclofenac, which was commonly used to treat cattle. This was in response to the proven role of this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in the catastrophic…

    • 3 Sep 2020
  • GPS tracking reveals new insights into the foraging areas of the Atlantic’s smallest seabird

    Blog by Dr Mark Bolton, Principal Conservation Scientist on his new paper published today. 

    The sparrow-sized European storm petrel is the smallest seabird in the Atlantic, nesting only on the most remote islands, around the coasts of north-west Europe. Over the last century, seabird biologists working in these far flung and beautiful places have pieced together the details of the storm petrels’ breeding behaviour on land…

    • 2 Sep 2020
  • Saltworks - Creating Project Puffin Art

    Today’s guest blog is by visual artist and wildlife biologist, Elaine Ford. Elaine has been working with Project Puffin tracking data to create works of art for a new exhibition.

    The Space and Satellite Artists’ Residency kicked off in May as part of the launch of the University of Edinburgh’s new InSpace Gallery. I was commissioned to explore the rapidly-evolving world of space and satellites, alongside…

    • 1 Sep 2020
  • Announcing the 2020 British Ecological Society award winners

    Today’s guest blog is by the British Ecological Society (BES) announced today the winners of its annual awards and prizes. Eleven distinguished ecologists have been recognised where their work has benefited the scientific community and society in general, including RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, Professor Juliet Vickery. Below, BES explains why Juliet was nominated for the award and looks back some of her…

    • 28 Aug 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…

    • 24 Aug 2020
  • An exciting re-sighting!

    Today’s blog is by Christopher Jones, Senior Field Assistant living on Gough Island and unravelling the mysteries of an intrepid bird.

    Despite the current global travel restrictions, a young Southern Giant Petrel was spotted by fishermen near the French Overseas Territory of Amsterdam Island in the southern Indian Ocean in April.

    After some investigation work, the bird was discovered to have been ringed as a chick…

    • 21 Aug 2020
  • Willow Tit National Survey 2019/20

    Today's blog is by Simon Wotton, Senior Conservation Scientist, giving the latest update on the willow tit survey.

    Between 1995 and 2018, numbers of Britain's endemic subspecies of willow tit have declined by 82%, making it the second fastest declining UK bird after turtle dove. If considering resident birds only, it is in fact the fastest declining. These plummeting numbers have meant the species is now red-lis…

    • 18 Aug 2020
  • Making the most of your puffin photographs

    Today’s blog is by puffineer and photographer, Oli Prince, giving guidance on getting the best puffin photographs.

    It might be a bit late in the year now to be getting puffin photos as the breeding season is almost over but it’s a great time to start planning for your summer 2021 visit. We have some top tips for you on how you can make the most of your puffin photography experience.

    Patience is essential…

    • 14 Aug 2020
  • Tracking elusive Manx shearwaters on the west coast of Ireland

    Over the last decade, deploying small tracking devices on seabirds has been able to provide us with astonishing insights into their offshore life. Today’s blog has been written by Conservation Scientist, Saskia Wischnewski, on some recent findings which take us straight to the West coast of Ireland, where Manx shearwaters ended up breaking records and proving that location matters.

    There is something weirdly fascinating…

    • 11 Aug 2020
  • From forest to bog, what happens to the carbon?

    Today’s guest blog has been written by Dr Paul Gaffney, former PhD student and hydrochemist at the Environmental Research Institute, on his work with RSPB centre for conservation science at Forsinard Flows.

    Although peatlands cover just three percent of the Earth’s surface, they provide an important range of ecosystem services to society, include nature conservation, water regulation and carbon storage. Crucially…

    • 3 Aug 2020
  • Becoming a puffineer and learning to ID fish

    Today’s blog is by puffineer, Katie Horton, on her changed plans to work on Puffarazzi and the learning curve involved.

    My first experience working with the RSPB began last year as a Volunteer Reserves Intern at Loch of Strahbeg where I lived and worked for a year. I was due to start work at Geltsdale on the Curlew Trial Management Project this summer, however like many other people, my plans changed.

    I had always…

    • 24 Jul 2020
  • Neonicotinoids – not just about the bees!

    Today's guest blog is written by Senior Policy Officer, Stephanie Morren, covering two new papers on the effects of neonicotinoids on birds and what this means for pesticide policy in the UK. 

    Neonicotinoids (NNs) are the largest group of systemic insecticides used around the world to protect a wide variety of crops from agricultural pests. Systemic pesticides are chemicals that are absorbed by the plant when applied…

    • 22 Jul 2020
  • Project Puffin UK, a puffin loving project with a multi-national team

    Today’s blog has been written by one of our volunteer puffineers, Antaia Christou, working on Project Puffin from her home in Cyprus.

    One of the reasons Project Puffin has been so successful is down to the hard work of the team. We're mostly volunteers; identifying and measuring the fish in Puffarazzi photos; gathering our own puffin images; working on the science of studying puffin diet; sourcing photos from online…

    • 17 Jul 2020
  • 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
  • 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