UK Migratory Birds ‘in freefall’ over Climate Change–BBC


By Paul Homewood

h/t Paul Kolk

Could this headline be any more fraudulent?

British bird lovers will see a very different pattern of species as the climate warms, according to scientists.

They say climate change is bad news for birds, but locally we will see “winners and losers”.

Migrants seldom seen on British shores, such as black-winged stilts and bee-eaters, are delighting bird watchers.

But populations of cuckoos are “in freefall” as UK wildlife struggles to cope with multiple pressures.

In nature-depleted Britain, almost half of all bird species are in decline due to a host of pressures – from the loss of meadows, hedgerows and other natural land to climate change and the use of pesticides.

The number of wild birds in Britain has fallen by 73 million since 1970, according to the British Trust for Ornithology, which studies birds in the British Isles.

The above graph has no relevance whatsoever to the issue of migratory birds. And since most of the decline occurred in the 1970s & 80s, it clearly has nothing to do with climate change either. As the article itself admits, bird populations have been declining for decades because of things like loss of habitat and pesticides. You do not need to invoke the climate bogeyman at all, particularly since there is zero evidence that climate has made any difference at all.

As for this supposed “freefall”, all the BBC can point to are cuckoos and willow warblers.

The Woodland Trust make clear that, while willow warbler populations have been dropping in southern England, they have been increasing in the north.

As willow warblers like open woodland and eat mainly insects, it is highly likely that changes to habitat are the cause of these shifting patterns.

The BBC’s claim that “Climate change is one of the biggest pressures that all species are facing, but particularly migratory species, because they have to worry about the climate conditions not only where they’re breeding, but also where they’re wintering and the areas that they’re travelling through to get here, which can be thousands of kilometres”, clearly is not supported by the ability of the bird to thrive in Scotland.

As for the cuckoo, this is what the Woodland have to say:

Apart from these two birds, the BBC offer no other evidence to back up their headline, that UK migratory birds are  ‘in freefall’ over climate change.

Most other migratory birds are doing fine, or at least as well as British species.

It may be that a few uncommon birds decline, but others also appear to be on the increase.

For the BBC to imply that there is some sort of catastrophe going on is simply fraudulent.

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Bill Toland
September 21, 2023 10:14 pm

Par for the course from the BBC. The horrifying thing is the number of people in Britain who believe everything that the BBC says.

Jim Masterson
Reply to  Bill Toland
September 21, 2023 10:23 pm

Like puppies, they’ve been trained to believe the BBC.

Reply to  Jim Masterson
September 22, 2023 12:18 am

Like Pavlov’s dogs !
And a lot of people salivate if you suggest the BBC may be lying.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Bill Toland
September 22, 2023 3:26 am

One of the funniest episodes of The Family Guy cartoon was when Peter was listening to the BBC.

September 21, 2023 11:35 pm

Slicing and dicing them probably doesn’t help ! 😉

September 21, 2023 11:38 pm

Back in the day, I used to read the red tops (tabloid newspapers) for my daily sensationalist chuckle, now I go to the BBC.

Came across this on the BBC “education” website which made me chuckle

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Reply to  Redge
September 22, 2023 11:02 am

They certainly do have a high opinion of themselves.

Ben Vorlich
September 21, 2023 11:52 pm

A lot ot migratory birds in the UK over winter here from more Northern regions. The graph shows a peak in the 1970s which were unusually cold. Then a decline as things warmed up from the 1980s.
That suggests to me that birds have stopped coming this far south in winter because they don’t have to. Are summer visitors going further north because it suits them better?
Cuckoos are insect feeders and food sources have declined in the last few decades. Until this century we didn’t know where UK cuckoo population went in winter or what route they took. Only one ringed specimen has ever been recovered, in 1930. But it seems more likely that reduced food and problems getting where they over winter are more likely causes than Climate change alone

Whatever it would be good to see a graph back to the 1950s

But what do I know

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
September 22, 2023 2:14 am

I have never heard a cuckoo in the UK. Sad but true. But I often hear them in the woodlands of northern Spain.

Whatever is keeping them from going further north it isn’t the excessively warm British spring.

Reply to  quelgeek
September 22, 2023 2:50 am

I have never heard a cuckoo in the UK”

There are cuckoos in Morden Hall Park, not too far from Wimbledon.

Reply to  strativarius
September 22, 2023 10:15 am

Parliament is full of them

September 22, 2023 12:16 am

More news is coming out about the UK Prime Minister’s revision of Net Zero. It turns out that its less, a lot less, than had been thought.

The plan was that there would be a ban on ICE cars in 2030. Two days ago Sunak announced that would be postponed to 2035.

However, there is also going to be a requirement on manufacturers to sell a certain proportion of their output as EVs. This percentage increases year by year, enforced by fines for non-compliance, and starts at 20% for the year starting January 2024, and rises to 80% in 2030. This, its now revealed, is not going to change.

The UK press and broadcasters have all joined in condemning Sunak’s announcements in extravagant terms. Here for example is the egregious Polly Toynbee in the Guardian:

“Sunak’s anti-green stance exposes his reckless dishonesty. His fate is what matters, the planet can go hang”
This is the usual line. Actually one of the more moderate reactions, believe it or not. You’d think Sunak is single handedly destroying human civilization on planet earth. But look what small changes are provoking all this fury.

He remains, repeatedly, committed to UK Net Zero, and the original milestone dates of the Climate Change Act. All that’s happening is that from 2030 80% of all cars must be ICE, instead of 100%. The ban on replacement oil boilers is put off to 2035, which is a very small concession, there being only a couple of million oil boilers installed. North Sea oil and gas licensing will continue. To counterbalance this, the subsidy on heat pumps will rise significantly.

This is still taking the country off the cliff. Its still committing to doubling electricity demand with the heat pump and EV move, not materially changed, while wrecking the supply. There will still not be enough charging points for the EVs, nor enough power to charge them and run the heat pumps – assuming people buy the things. There is still no real acknowledgment of intermittency of wind and solar and what it means.

The thing that has to strike you in all this is the ferocity of the climate orthodoxy among the media and political class of the UK. The slightest hint that Net Zero is being put in some way to a rational assessment in any of its details provokes total self righteous fury. Perhaps the finest example comes, as usual, from the SNP, the changes are said to be “astonishing policy reversals” and an “unforgivable betrayal” of the climate change agenda. Because of 80% EVs in 2030, rather than 100%? But the Guardian columnists are not far behind.

Its mass hysteria, and the BBC is one of the main cheerleaders.

Reply to  michel
September 22, 2023 2:16 am

At best you could argue that Sunak is tinkering, nothing more.

The by-election has created a shift but with each passing day the broadcast alarmism keeps nagging and the momentum may be waning, hence a possible slight delay, maybe, possibly, could be, might etc etc

Dave Andrews
Reply to  michel
September 22, 2023 8:15 am

Re the change with regard to ICE cars. Whilst the reaction from the usual sources has been completely over the top the Grauniad does report that “Jaguar Land Rover said the move was pragmatic and brought the UK into line with other countries”

After all the EU is content with a 2035 date – the reaction in the Uk is farcical!

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Dave Andrews
September 22, 2023 8:17 am

By the way I’m not implying that any of the measures to meet Net Zero are actually necessary.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
September 22, 2023 8:39 am

China and India both said that growth was more important to them at this time.

Chris Hanley
September 22, 2023 12:28 am

Climate change is one of the biggest pressures that all species are facing, but particularly migratory species, because they have to worry about the climate conditions ,,,

😂 How to identify a worried bird.

Reply to  Chris Hanley
September 22, 2023 12:43 am

That’s what my wife looks like when I say ‘time for bed !’

September 22, 2023 12:38 am

Well, climate change™ has certainly wiped out our local swallow population, over the summer there were 100s until a week ago when they all disappeared (but I cant find any bodies ).

See you can trust the BBC …

… to deceive you.

Peta of Newark
September 22, 2023 1:24 am

“”from the loss of meadows, hedgerows and other natural land to climate change and the use of pesticides.

Meadows and hedgerows are NOT – ‘natural land’
Anyway, what is this ‘natural land’ ## apart from some dreamy confection that we remember being told about in Kindergarten or nursery school.

The dream world of abundant bird-life originated from, let’s say, the beginning to 20th Century and it was actually real.
For the birds in the UK (small ‘songbirds’ like sparrows, thrush, finches, robins, wrens etc etc) the Very Best Thing that happened to them was the 2 world wars.
Especially that when (human) food went into short supply because of the wars, UK farmers and *everyone* were encouraged to Dig For Victory and do what they could to be self-reliant
For vast numbers that meant keeping a few chickens and or a dove-cote and it was a really really serious business.
Thus and for the chicken keepers, if anything ‘damaged their flock’, measures were taken to ensure such ‘damage’ **never** happened again
Such damage coming from large raptor birds, (hawks, kestrels, eagles, kites, buzzards etc) also rooks, crows and other Corvids like magpies and jackdaws
Also from land-bound critters like foxes, rats and badgers and very strenous measures were taken to control those pests. They loved to prey upon the nests of ground-nesting birds like curlew and green plover not very least.
Especially important to control them as the ‘special nice food‘ like chicken, pigeon casserole and eggs, were being reserved for and fed to children.

But those raptors and predators didn’t just go after domestic fayre – they constantly ravaged the population of the ‘small birds’
So when the predators were damn near eliminated, the populations of the small birds skyrocketed – they effectively became ‘protected species’ and the protection afforded them was ruthless. Children went hungry otherwise.

But now look what we’ve got;
All those predators have now become themselves ‘protected species’ and their numbers have skyrocketed
Simultaneously, the small birds have damn near vanished – especially the ground-nesters
And it is/was brain-dead unthinking and aimlessly romantic idiots like Helen Briggs that occasioned that slaughter.
And now, thanks to Climate Change, they can pass the buck to everyone else

everything is now Cause&Effect reversed, junk and simply, wrong
Climate Change is the most hideous monster & doomsday machine there ever could be and it ONLY exists inside other people’s heads.

## I do know: There is a modest patch of The Fen, somewhere south of a line drawn between March and Whittlesea, that has been preserved as Real Actual Untouched Fen.
In summertime it is magical – you can feel the life, the electricity, the water and hear the diversity but you actually see very little. For critters like us is is a perfectly impenetrable jungle – step a few yards off the narrow lane and you are in a different world.

It’s soooo gorgeous – I have a tear in my eye just thinking about
(That’s = Emotionalism – take care out there never to have a Stroke)

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 22, 2023 2:11 am

“Meadows and hedgerows are NOT – ‘natural land’”

Where is Marianna?????

How does one lose ‘natural land’ to ‘climate change’, unless it is inundated by the sea or covered in ice?

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 22, 2023 11:53 am

…take care out there never to have a Stroke)
Damn – too late.

Northern Bear
Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 22, 2023 2:19 pm

You could be right on this I remember the 60s and 70s lots of sparrows and starlings around, swifts and swallows in the summer, and birds of prey , rooks magpies etc used to get shot, buzzards virtually wiped out along with kites. Now birds of prey protected, sparrows and starlings swallows very rarely seen . We have lots of buzzards now , see them every day flying around where I live. I was at a motor racing event recently and there were red kites working the nearby field. I was in Portugal the other year and an abundance of Sparrows and Swifts and Swallows about and it was much warmer there than the Uk

Reply to  Northern Bear
September 23, 2023 7:59 am

A major cause of the reduction in buzzards was the elimination of the rabbit in the UK. Until the early 50s there was a plague of rabbits, with the introduction of myxomatosis they were effectively wiped out so that where I saw hundreds every day I no longer saw any for years. There was a reduction in the numbers of buzzards seen following that.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
September 23, 2023 5:05 pm

A recent book ‘Ten birds that changed the world’ by Stephen Moss discusses the role of the MI5’s Falcon Destruction Unit’s role in WW2 wiping out the peregrine falcon in the South of England.
‘the squad toured the south coast of Britain searching for peregrines. Once they found the birds they shot them, killing more than 600 during the course of the war. This methodical slaughter of peregrines had a devastating effect on an already falling population, reducing the nesting population in England by as much as half, and pushing this majestic raptor to the brink of extinction in southern Britain.’
This would be a rational explanation for a fall in southern England of preyed upon birds once the peregrine managed to recover, and the abundance when the peregrine was on the brink of extinction.

September 22, 2023 1:59 am

It used to be that if you drove any distance the windscreen would be completely covered in squished insects, I’ve assumed the change was the insecticides for the agriculture.

Reply to  zemlik
September 22, 2023 2:06 am

I assumed some of it was improved vehicle aerodynamics. When I’m out on my bicycle I don’t notice much of a decline in insects since my youth.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  zemlik
September 22, 2023 3:31 am

True, in recent years I’ve seen none of that- and I don’t miss it at all. But no doubt we’ll see it again.

Chez Keswick
September 22, 2023 2:04 am

This nonsense from the BBC fails to make any mention of the effect wind turbines have on bird populations.
Wind turbines (aka bird mincing machines) are a disaster for birds (bats insects and possibly whales) but you’ll never hear that from the BCC.

Reply to  Chez Keswick
September 22, 2023 10:23 am

Where I live in Ontario Canada it was noted that the best places for windmills are on the migratory routes for birds flying south for winter. Migratory birds use the same wind currents that give the turbines higher and most sustained winds.

September 22, 2023 2:06 am

The BBC is really going to town – with wall to wall quotes from its house rag – on the impending disaster of Sunak’s NZ rollback; if you can call such minor tinkering as such. Why are there so many Justins on the payroll?

“British bird lovers will see a very different pattern of species as the climate warms, according to scientists.”

In the late noughties I was working in Bexley, on the South Eastern fringes of London. Frank’s Park in Bexley was heavily populated by ring-necked parakeets. I live all the way across in South West London (~25 miles) and at that time there were no parakeets to be seen at all. Today, they are ubiquitous and so is their irritating squawk. But they are colourful, and somewhat exotic.

“we will see “winners and losers””

That’s life, the universe and everything. 

“the loss of meadows, hedgerows and other natural land to climate change and the use of pesticides. “

Losing natural land to climate change? Who is this Helen Briggs and what is her degree in? For my money, that should read:  the loss of meadows, hedgerows and other natural land to wind farms and solar farms.

And the benefits of going solar are:

“Leaked documents reveal how Liam Kavanagh used Thurrock Council’s money to buy luxury goods, including a yacht and a private jet. The council has been made effectively bankrupt after investing £655m in Mr Kavanagh’s solar farm business.”

And council taxes have gone shooting up.

The BBC wasn’t that concerned about the White-Throated Needletail that was sliced and diced on its rare arrival by an eco-crucifix. Some losses are clearly more than acceptable.

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September 22, 2023 2:16 am

So what are the ‘correct’ bird, butterfly, bee…. numbers that activists are always telling us are in precipitous decline?

Given that little of the UK landscape is natural and it has been constantly changed by man for thousands of years, most critter populations are artificial and merely represent those that were able to exploit and adapt. And it would constantly change and evolve under nature anyway. Populations boom and bust, things come and go.

To pick some arbitrary period like the 1930s or the 1970s and wish to recreate that and preserve it in aspic, to lament the loss of all the (man-made) wildflower meadows, water meadows, grain farming exploiting sparrows etc. is dishonest and illogical.

A few years ago the RSPB overhauled all their web documents describing individual bird populations and threats, they used to state the real causes; trapping, poisoning, habitat change/loss etc., now predictably they mostly highlight climate change.

Reply to  MrGrimNasty
September 22, 2023 2:36 am

Send your letter to C. Packham (C/O BBC/Attenborough Productions)

Reply to  MrGrimNasty
September 22, 2023 8:45 am

The media never mentions that the Earth is in a 2.56 million-year ice age named the Quaternary Glaciation. The ‘Climate Scientists’ had climate redefined to be only around 30 years, so it is basically just long-term weather.

September 22, 2023 2:20 am

I just found this: it looks like cuckoos have got used to the UK climate in the last ten years.

This BBC fail is worse than we thought—to coin a phrase.

September 22, 2023 3:29 am

I’m having great difficult swallowing this story from the BBC.

September 22, 2023 4:00 am

How many of the declining species depend upon an insect population which is also declining at least in part through the use of wind farms?

September 22, 2023 6:02 am

I like the margin of error lines in the graph. 1970s people were really good at accurately counting birds but somehow we have become less good at it

John XB
September 22, 2023 6:39 am

Climate Stasis Believers also are Creationists – the exact types and numbers of species have been preordained. Nothing must ever change.

Mike Maguire
September 22, 2023 7:44 am

The biggest threat to life on this planet by a wide margin is cold. It’s actually why migratory birds need to migrate(to go to where warmth continues to provides food in the Winter).

This article wants us to believe that LESS cold in the Winter, which is reducing the greatest risk to life and resulting in less need for migration(which carries a lot of risk) is actually causing harm to the creatures that it benefits the most.

And making this truly absurd is the complete ignoring of the indisputable role that CO2 plays in the law of photosynthesis. The increase in this beneficial gas is massively greening up the planet and increasing food for creatures that have plant based diets(including seeds) to go with the less harsh Winters.

You can make a case for changes in the insect population being a factor for birds like this that feed on insects but insects benefit greatly from milder Winters.

Global climate models are broken and too warm because they use equations that amplify the forcing from CO2 in greenhouse gas warming by almost 50%.


“The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report predicted 0.508±0.102 Wm−2RF resulting from this CO2 increase, 42% more forcing than actually observed. The lack of quantitative long-term global OLR studies may be permitting inaccu-racies to persist in general circulation model forecasts of the effects of rising CO2 or other greenhouse gasses.”

However, look at what models based on photosynthesis and more reality based metrics show for the next 80 years. They’ve been verifying nicely during this period of beneficial warming for most life on this greening planet.

Global Green Up Slows Warming

“The paper’s authors reviewed more than 250 published articles that have used satellite data, modeling, and field observations, to understand the causes and consequences of global greening. Among the key results, the authors noted that on a global scale greening can be attributed to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Rising levels of carbon dioxide increase the rate of photosynthesis and growth in plants.”

“It is ironic that the very same carbon emissions responsible for harmful changes to climate are also fertilizing plant growth,” said co-author Jarle Bjerke of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research”

Screenshot 2023-09-22 at 09-39-15 Droughts not increasing - MarketForum.png
Reply to  Mike Maguire
September 22, 2023 8:52 am

A worldwide study found 4.6 million people die from cold-related causes, mostly from increased strokes and heart attacks when the cold air enters our lungs and our blood vessels constrict raising blood pressure, compared to around 500,000 people dying from heat-related causes.
‘Global, regional and national burden of mortality associated with nonoptimal ambient temperatures from 2000 to 2019: a three-stage modelling study’

This study from 2015 says that cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather and that moderately warm or cool weather kills far more people than extreme weather. Increased strokes and heart attacks from cool weather are the main cause of the deaths.
‘Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multi-country observational study’

J Boles
September 22, 2023 7:51 am

I do not believe that graph has any validity. 130 species? How does one count birds, 130 species, to come up with a graph like that? I think it was just made up in order to scare the peasants in to giving up more.

September 22, 2023 8:36 am

The geological climate of the Earth is still a 2.56 million-year ice age called the Quaternary Glaciation(fourth ice age). Birds still have to migrate because it gets so cold in winter. Outside of the tropics everyone still has to wear warm clothes and warm shoes, live in warm houses, ride in warm transportation, and work in warm factories or office buildings during most of the year. Twenty percent of the land is covered in glaciers or permafrost. The ice age won’t end until there is no more natural ice on Earth.

September 22, 2023 11:00 am

For the BBC to imply that there is some sort of catastrophe going on is simply fraudulent.

To long and complicated

The BBC is simply fraudulent.

Fixed it for you.

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