• National turtle dove survey results warn of low numbers, but solutions give hope

    Today see’s the publication of the UK national turtle dove survey, highlighting that the population now stands at around 2,100 territories, down from an estimated 125,000 in 1970. However, whilst the results are sobering, there is hope for this summer resident. Conservation Scientist Andrew Stanbury explains

    In 2021 we undertook the first national survey of turtle doves in the UK and today saw the publication of…

    • 20 Jun 2022
  • Volunteers week – thank you to our helpers in science

    Every year, thousands of RSPB volunteers contribute almost a million hours to help conservation. Whether that’s fundraising, talking to reserve visitors or taking part in a citizen science project, we really couldn’t achieve what we do without their help. This is certainly the case for the RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science (CfCS); our team of dedicated volunteers help us innovate technologies, monitor sites and research…

    • 7 Jun 2022
  • Managing woodland for birds - does it work?

    Blog by Paul Bellamy Senior Conservation Scientist, Neil Riddle Principal Adviser – Natural Environment, Forestry Commission Phil Grice, Principal Specialist Ornithology, Natural England on their recently published paper.

    RSPB and Forestry Commission have been investigating whether using government-funded environmental land management schemes to implement bespoke woodland management to improve their structure for…

    • 31 May 2022
  • Galala Bird Observatory – a new monitoring station in Egypt

    In efforts to better monitor migrating birds, a team have set up a monitoring station in the new university city of Galala, Egypt. In today's blog Steffen Oppel, Senior Conservation Scientist, explains the project along with some of the amazing photos captured by the research team. 

    Over the past 10 years the RSPB has invested a lot of effort to protect migratory raptors along the eastern Mediterranean flyway as a…

    • 26 May 2022
  • Fencing for safeguarding waders?

    The main driver behind the decline of our beloved meadow birds in many parts of Europe is insufficient breeding success as a result of high levels of predation. Fewer chicks fledged means fewer become breeding birds themselves, reducing population size over time. To reverse population declines of species like black-tailed godwit and lapwing this tide must be turned. We have just published the results of a study that trialled…

    • 24 May 2022
  • We’re hiring! Join the RSPB's Centre for Conservation Science

    The RSPB Centre for Conservation Science is responsible for the science that informs delivery of the RSPB’s conservation programmes for species, habitats and landscapes. Whether it’s working out how to recover a species on the verge of extinction, or restoring a degraded rainforest. Building the evidence-base, helps make our work more effective and ensures conservation resources are deployed appropriately.…

    • 19 May 2022
  • Decline of Leach’s Storm Petrels in the north-east Atlantic

    A new open access scientific paper has been published in The Seabird Group’s journal, Seabird, describing surveys of the biggest Leach’s storm petrel colonies in the north-east Atlantic. Conservation Scientist and lead author, Zoe Deakin explains in today's blog.

    The Leach’s storm petrel is one of the smallest seabirds in the world – about the size of a starling. It spends almost all its time at…

    • 21 Apr 2022
  • Collision hotspots for migrating birds revealed in new study

    New research published today highlights the areas in Europe and North Africa where the construction of wind turbines or power lines is likely to increase the risk of death for migrating birds.

    The study used GPS location data from 65 bird tracking studies to understand where they fly more frequently at danger height – defined as 10-60 metres above ground for power lines and 15-135 metres for wind turbines. This…

    • 6 Apr 2022
  • Exciting news from the Vulture release programme in Nepal

    This blog was originally on the Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE) website. SAVE is a consortium of likeminded, regional and international organisations including the RSPB, created to oversee and co-ordinate conservation, campaigning and fundraising activities to help the plight of South Asia’s vultures. Today’s blog is by Ankit Bilash Joshi (Bird Conservation Nepal) and John Mallord (RSPB)…

    • 6 Apr 2022
  • Roaring success of UK’s loudest bird

    If a bird can be said to skulk, then the bittern skulks. It hides away in reedbeds, peering out of the rushes before placing its long legs in measured, slow, and careful steps, its amber and brown plumage protecting it against detection - blink, and you’ll miss it.  

    How to count bitterns 

    This is why researchers tend to listen for this elusive member of the heron family instead, waiting by likely wetland habitats…

    • 25 Mar 2022
  • Making climate change adaptation work for nature

    Nature cannot keep pace with climate change and needs our help to adapt. Currently, climate change adaptation actions are lagging behind mitigation measures but as those adaptation actions for nature become more widespread, it’s increasingly important to know how well these are working. A new paper provides a practical step forward.   

    The UK Climate Change Committee notes a widening adaptation gap – the actions…

    • 24 Mar 2022
  • Cutting-edge camera systems used for seabird conservation work

    The RSPB Centre for Conservation Science are working in partnership with Seabird Watch, the Department of Zoology at Oxford University and Hideaway Media Ltd (Time-Lapse-Systems) to develop and install camera systems capable of capturing vital conservation work in exciting new ways. 

    Here at the RSPB, we’re constantly pushing to improve the ways we monitor the conservation status of the internationally important populations…

    • 22 Mar 2022
  • RSPB Scientist awarded Honorary Professorship

    Dr Jen Smart, the RSPB’s Head of Conservation Science Scotland & Northern Ireland, has been awarded an Honorary Professorship at the University of East Anglia (UEA) which she will take up from August 2022.  

    Jen was nominated for the Honorary Chair position by Professor Jennifer Gill, in recognition of her long-standing work at UEA’s School of Biological Sciences (BIO).  

    After doing her undergraduate degree…

    • 18 Mar 2022
  • European birds of prey populations suppressed by lead poisoning

    Poisoning caused by preying on or scavenging animals shot by hunters using lead ammunition has left the populations of many raptors – or birds of prey – far smaller than they should be, according to the first study to calculate these impacts across Europe.   

    When birds like eagles and Red Kites scavenge carcasses or eat injured animals with fragments of toxic lead from gun ammunition embedded in their bodies…

    • 16 Mar 2022
  • Linking foraging and breeding strategies in tropical seabirds

    As part of our research collaboration with the RSPB we challenged the widespread view that tropical seabirds forage more unpredictably than temperate and polar species, and we tested the hypothesis that the foraging behaviour of a species is associated with its breeding strategy. Today’s guest blog by Dr Louise Soanes, Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Roehampton, explains her new paper.

    By deploying…

    • 3 Mar 2022
  • What are the main drivers that affect populations of European mountain and upland bird species?

    In a new guest blog published today, Riccardo Alba, PhD Student at the University of Turin discusses his latest paper. His study looked at which drivers have been most consistently associated with positive or negative demographic responses in 34 European mountain and upland bird species.

    European mountain and upland areas account for around 20% of Europe’s landmass. They are unique and wonderful ecosystems, not only for…

    • 1 Mar 2022
  • Using sniffer dogs to count seabirds

    Surveying for nocturnal, ground nesting seabirds can often be fraught with difficulties. In today’s blog Siân Denney, Science Communications Volunteer, explains a new RSPB paper which has trialled a novel method of detecting seabird burrows through the use of scent dogs.

    Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and trained to perform a vast array of tasks. Scent dogs are increasingly used for conservation…

    • 22 Feb 2022
  • Assessing bycatch risk from gillnet fisheries

    Bycatch (marine species caught unintentionally while fishing for another target species) is one of the major threats affecting seabirds globally. Distressing images of albatross caught in longline fisheries in the southern hemisphere are well known, but what is less well known is that seabirds closer to home are also at risk of bycatch. In today’s blog, Conservation Scientists Ian Cleasby & Linda Wilson tell us about…

    • 16 Feb 2022
  • Another veterinary drug confirmed toxic to vultures

    A paper published in the current issue of Science of the Total Environment confirms that the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) nimesulide is toxic to vultures, following safety testing of the drug on vultures in South Africa.

    Since the banning of veterinary diclofenac, the NSAID which drove three species of Gyps vultures to near-extinction in South Asia, there has been an urgent need to test other NSAIDs also…

    • 15 Feb 2022
  • Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science

    At the RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science, we are lucky to have incredible women who are working hard to find practical solutions to the most pressing conservation problems. For International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we’ve asked some of them how they got into science and their advice for any aspiring female conservationists.

    For the love of nature

    Whilst some of our women in science followed…

    • 10 Feb 2022
  • Breeding cranes reach record high

    New figures show cranes at a record high number after going extinct in the UK 400 years ago. In today’s blog Andrew Stanbury, RSPB Conservation Scientist, takes us through how the tallest bird in the UK started their comeback, and how conservation action is restoring their lost wetland habitats.  

    The bugle falls silent 

    400 years ago, cranes disappeared from the UK. While at one time they were so plentiful that Henry…

    • 2 Feb 2022
  • Can you help us report burning on peatland?

    This month we’re launching a new app to allow members of the public to report incidents of burning on peatland. We need you to tell us when and where burning is taking place to support our call for Governments across the UK to ban burning on peatland and to licence all moorland and grass burning.

    But why is this so important that we stop burning?

    From mountains to hills, valleys to moors, our uplands are home to…

    • 1 Feb 2022
  • A survey of features compromising the expansion and integrity of Caledonian pinewoods

    For his sabbatical last year, Principal Conservation Scientist Ron Summers carried out a survey of the remaining fragments of Caledonian pinewood in Highland Scotland. His aim was to observe management features that may be compromising the potential for the old pinewoods to expand, as well as noting the features that are affecting the integrity of the pinewoods.    

    The Caledonian pinewoods of Highland Scotland represent…

    • 26 Jan 2022
  • Upland woodlands reduce downstream flooding

    A recently published paper has shown that upland woodlands are able to reduce flooding downstream, compared to other common upland land uses. In today’s guest blog, the authors share and discuss their findings.

    Woodlands can reduce downstream flooding, but there are relatively few studies providing supporting evidence for these benefits. To address this issue, we measured soil properties and stream flow in upland…

    • 25 Jan 2022
  • Vegetation burning in the UK uplands – the danger of importing science from other biomes

    A recent paper published in Nature Geoscience concludes that fire could be an important tool for increasing carbon storage in soils. This paper has been seized on by a UK grouse shooting industry seeking to justify continued vegetation burning in the uplands, including over peat soils. However, this overlooks crucial caveats that limit the applicability of this work to UK moorland. Here, Dr David Douglas, Principal Conservation…

    • 18 Jan 2022