Figures released last week by DEFRA show a significant decline in the total population of native breeding birds in the UK.

The figures, compiled in conjunction with the RSPB, the British Trust for Ornithology and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, show that numbers of wetland birds, seabirds and wintering waterbirds have declined since 2003.

Farmland birds, which include grey partridges, turtle doves, starlings and tree sparrows, have suffered a 49 per cent drop in numbers since 1970, and a seven per cent drop between 2003 and 2008, according to the figures. Yellow wagtails have declined by 32 per cent over the same five-year period.

Only the number of woodland birds gives any cause for celebration, with an increase of three per cent in numbers since 2003. Woodland ?specialists?, including the blackcap, great spotted woodpecker and nuthatch, have more than doubled in population since 1970. Since that year, however, total numbers of all woodland birds have decreased by 24 per cent.

The rest of this article appears in 2nd February issue of Shooting Times.

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