• Bird flu video update as new survey data shows the impact on seabirds

    In the latest of our bird flu video updates, Senior Policy Officer Claire Smith has some worrying news on what has been happening to seabird populations. Last year the RSPB and other organisations worked to produce fresh surveys of seabird colonies to try and understand the impact of bird flu on key species. As Claire explains the results are sobering. The 2023 UK wide counts were supported by the Bird Flu Appeal and…

  • Seabirds in crisis: new bird flu report adds further urgency to need for action

    Policy Assistant for Avian InfluenzaJean Duggan, reflects on the recent findings from the HPAI Seabird Surveys Project and the realities of HPAI as an additional threat to our seabirds, and outlines the critical steps that need to be taken to safeguard their future. 

    See the full blog here.

  • Devasting seabird declines following the 2021–22 avian influenza outbreak

    February 2024 sees the publication of a new RSPB Research Report that provides updated colony counts for seabirds across the UK, following the 2021–22 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak. In this blog, Linda Wilson, Senior Conservation Scientist, explains the key findings and what this tells us about the effects of HPAI so far on the UK’s seabirds.

    See the full blog here.

  • Bird Flu News August 2023: New podcast episode looks at seabirds and avian flu in Scotland

    This episode of Nature News from RSPB Scotland is a deep dive into the crisis facing seabirds around Scotland's coasts. Stephen is joined at the seaside by Head of Species Paul Walton and Head of Marine Policy Helen McLachlan. They explain why Scotland is so important globally for seabirds and the threats they face. Stephen also travels to RSPB Scotland nature reserves in Orkney, Fowlsheugh and Troup Head to hear what…

  • Bird Flu News August 2023: A summer of seabird surveys: understanding avian influenza

    Dr Connie Tremlett, Conservation Scientist, updates on the progress of seabird surveys coordinated by the RSPB in 2023 to help us understand the impacts of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).

    Real full blog here: https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/science/posts/a-summer-of-seabird-surveys-understanding-bird-flu 

  • Bird Flu News July 2023: Seabirds on the brink as Avian Flu rips through colonies for a third year

    The RSPB has raised the alarm call for seabirds as Avian Flu continues to put many species at risk across the UK. Thousands of seabirds are reported to have already died this summer, with 21 of the UK’s 25 breeding seabird species now having tested positive for the virus since 2021.

    Read full blog here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/seabirds-on-the-brink-as-avian-flu…

  • Bird Flu News May 2023: Counting seabirds to understand the impacts of avian influenza

    Linda Wilson, Senior Conservation Scientist, describes the launch of a major programme of seabird surveys across the UK designed to help us understand the impacts of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

    Read full blog here: https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/science/posts/counting-seabirds-to-understand-the-impacts-of-avian-influenza 

  • Bird Flu News May 2023: RSPB calls for moratorium on gamebird releases as Avian Influenza outbreak continues

    To help limit the catastrophic spread of Avian Influenza, in May 2023 the RSPB called for an immediate moratorium on the release of captive bred gamebirds and Mallards for shooting in the UK this year. The call is for the UK and devolved governments and the shooting industry to take a precautionary approach to limit the spread of avian influenza in wild birds and reduce the risk of viral re-assortment leading to new strains of…

  • Bird Flu Update April 2023 – The View from Grassholm

    In my last blog, I wrote about the hugely important survey work we’re carrying out this year to quantify the impact of the 2022 HPAI outbreak on the numbers of UK seabirds returning to breed in 2023. That work is now underway, which means our seabirds are currently returning, and we’re monitoring their arrival with bated breath.
  • Bird Flu Update March 2023 – Our Science Work

    Taking on the role of Policy Assistant – Avian Influenza has been a steep learning curve for me, but due to the unprecedented nature of the current outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the UK and worldwide, we are all still grappling with a lot of unknowns.

    This strain of the virus (H5N1) has hit an array of previously unaffected species and it remained widespread all throughout summer 2022, something…

  • Bird Flu Update – December 2022

    After a devastating summer for our seabirds as a result of the worst-ever avian flu outbreak to date, we have been monitoring the return of our wintering wildfowl populations with bated breath.

    When I took up the post of Policy Assistant – Avian Influenza at the start of November 2022, things were looking relatively quiet, as captured in our October update from Islay. There had been one significant outbreak on…

  • Bird flu update from Islay, October 2022

    The bird flu virus has had catastrophic effects on the UK’s breeding seabirds this summer, causing thousands of deaths and affecting the whole coast of the UK. Particularly badly affected were gannets, great skuas and terns. Overall, over sixty species of birds have tested positive, including six species of raptor.

    Once breeding finished, the seabirds dispersed, and since then we have not had any major outbreaks…

  • Bird Flu Update June 2022

    The 2021/22 outbreak of HPAI is still affecting wild bird populations in the UK. This has been the worst ever outbreak of HPAI in the UK and has not only affected a large number of birds but is ongoing over a long time period. You can see previous blogs for more information and the story of the unprecedented impact this strain of HPAI has had, causing the loss of a third of the Solway barnacle geese population. We have…

  • Bird flu Update December 2021

    Right now, the UK is experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of Avian Flu and we urgently need your help...  bit.ly/3e7VbB3

    The current outbreak of avian influenza is the largest ever in the UK which is adding yet more pressure to our already beleaguered wild bird populations. As of Thursday 16 December, there were 60 confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in premises across the UK. In wild birds…

  • Bird flu update November 2021

    Following a number of confirmed cases of Avian Influenza in August this year, mainly amongst Great Skuas in Scotland, there have now been numerous outbreaks since the end of October. There have been cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 in captive and wild birds in England, Wales and Scotland and in wild birds in Northern Ireland. An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) has been declared across Great…

  • Recent cases of avian influenza

    There have been a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza throughout autumn and winter so far. There have been cases in captive and wild birds in all four countries of the UK.

    The vast majority of these cases are of the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza.

    Full information regarding the current situation in each of the four countries, including advice for poultry keepers, can be found here:

    England: https://www…

  • Bird Flu update - 11 December 2020

    Recent cases of avian influenza have once again brought ‘bird flu’ in to the news. 

    There have been a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza so far this autumn. There have been cases in England in both captive and wild birds and a couple of confirmed cases in wild birds in Northern Ireland. There have been no cases so far in Scotland or Wales.

    The vast majority of these cases are of the highly pathogenic…

  • Bird Flu update – 5 February 2018

    Following confirmation of Avian Influenza in birds at Abbotsbury in Dorset on 12 January 2018, there have now been a number of confirmed reports of bird flu in wild birds from different localities in England.  Some have involved individual birds but 31 dead waterfowl tested positive for bird flu in the Dorset incident. Senior Policy Officer Robin Wynde has provided the below update.

    RSPB staff have been keeping their eyes…

  • H5N8 continues to spread

    New outbreaks of avian influenza H5N8 this week in a commercial turkey flock in Lincolnshire, and a commercial flock of farmed breeding pheasants Lancashire, suggest that that the virus is continuing to spread. There have now been a total of six outbreaks of H5N8 in captive birds in the UK this winter, three of which have been in separate turkey farms in East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, although whether or not this latest…

  • Update on H5N8

    Since I last updated this blog on 31st December we have received information about two more confirmed cases of H5N8 on RSPB reserves: a wigeon on the Exe Estuary in Devon, and a teal at Conwy in north Wales. Both birds were found dead on the reserves and were immediately reported to the Defra helpline by RSPB staff.

    As mentioned in my last update this is not unexpected as the virus is probably circulating in wild birds…

  • H5N8 found on RSPB reserves

    We have been informed that highly pathonegic avian influenza H5N8 has been recorded in a small number of wildfowl on RSPB reserves at Frampton and Marshside. The virus was detected in birds found dead on site as a result of the vigilance of  reserve staff and visitors. This finding is not unexpected as the disease has already been found in wild birds across Europe, including cases in England, Scotland and Wales earlier…

  • Avian Influenza confirmed in wild duck in Carmarthenshire

    Defra have confirmed that a wild wigeon found dead in Carmarthenshire in Wales has tested positive for Avian Influenza H5N8, the same strain of the disease confirmed at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire last week. This is the first time a wild bird has tested positive for avian influenza in the UK this winter.

    This follows the introduction of a Prevention Zone across Great Britain earlier this month requiring all keepers…

  • H5N8 reaches the UK

    H5N8, the strain of avian influenza currently spreading across Europe, was confirmed on a turkey farm in Lincolnshire last Friday. Defra immediately put in place a 3km protection zone and 10km surveillance zone around the outbreak site, restricting all movements of poultry, captive birds or mammals in order to limit the risk of the virus from spreading, and all turkeys on the farm have since been humanely culled. These…

  • Avian Influenza spreads throughout Europe

    Bird flu has hit the headlines in recent weeks as highly pathogenic strain H5N8 spreads across Europe. The virus has been detected in 13 European countries to-date with outbreaks in wild birds, poultry, hunting bird decoys, and a small number of zoological collections. The strain currently circulating has never been detected in humans.

    So far this winter there have been no cases in the UK. Defra, along with Welsh and…

  • H7N7 avian flu confirmed in Lancashire

    This morning a case of H7N7 avian flu was confirmed on a Lancashire chicken farm near Preston. This is the same strain that caused an outbreak at a farm in Hampshire in February. Further detail on the current outbreak can be found here.

    Defra initiated its Contingency Plan immediately to prevent the spread of infection. Culling of all poultry on the farm began over the weekend in anticipation of positive results of testing…