The recent cold winters in Europe have had a marked effect on numbers of wintering waterbirds in the UK, according to a new report by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

The organisation?s Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) has recorded a winter influx of mallard and teal over recent years, as birds moved to milder areas in search of better feeding opportunities. Chas Holt, WeBS organiser at the BTO, said: ?WeBS volunteers made over 34,000 visits to wetland sites to count waterbirds. Once again this is a fantastic effort, and fundamental in helping to illustrate what is happening to Britain?s internationally important waterbird populations.?

The report also says that 2009/10 was the first winter ever when the total number of gadwall exceeded that of pochard. Whereas gadwall numbers in Britain have risen in recent years, the BTO believes the substantial decrease in pochard may have come as a result of a shift in wintering range towards central Europe. A number of familiar waders are also declining.

The rest of this article appears in 24th August issue of Shooting Times.

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