Sunday, October 15, 2006

Changes to bird life in the U.K.

Even more profound are the changes occurring in the nation's wildlife, and in particular, birds. The redwing, a species of thrush that was once a frequent visitor from Scandinavia in winter, is disappearing from our skies. 'It used to fly to Scotland to eat our berries and avoid the freezing conditions of its Scandinavian homeland, but now winters have become so mild over there, it is staying put,' said Paul Stancliffe of the British Trust for Ornithology.

Then there is Cetti's Warbler, a small, brownish bird with a notable, loud song, and a penchant for warm weather. It first arrived in Britain in 1961 and made a home for itself in Hampshire, one of the warmest corners of the British Isles. Then global warming began to take its steamy grip of the United Kingdom. Today temperatures have soared so high across Britain that the Cetti reached the Scottish border last year and now breeds regularly as far north as Yorkshire.

Similarly, the blackcap, a distinctive grey species of warbler found in many parts of Europe, used to make a point of migrating to the Mediterranean and north Africa during winter. Now conditions have become so warm that warblers in Germany have found it just as pleasant to migrate to the UK instead, thus saving it a lengthy continental journey. For the blackcap, Britain is the new Adriatic.

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