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News and updates about SongBird Survival
09/11/20 - New General Licences Issued
Defra has announced the details of the new general licences which will come into force on 1st January 2021. There are some further changes to the licence to conserve endangered wild birds and flora or fauna which you need to be aware of. This licence will be GL40.
Find out the full details at:
01/11/20 - 100 Club Winner!
Congratulations to SBS member Mr N Randall with winning ticket number 79 in the November 2020 draw!
Tickets for our 100-club are just £12 per year and enter you into our monthly draw with prizes starting from £140 each month, doubling to £280 in December!
So far over £10,000 has been won by SBS supporters!
Our 100 club scheme has helped to raise over £44,000 for our research programme. Thank you!
02/10/20 - The Impact of Predation on Songbirds
Latest Research Paper published
07/09/20 - SBS in the Papers!
Our wonderful project with the University of Exeter has been highlighted in over 90 publications worldwide.
Both our brilliant researchers at the University and SBS staff and Trustees have been interviewed on TV and Radio.
It has been wonderful to gain such coverage and we are so pleased this has been possible with the help of all our members and other supporters. Thank you.
03/09/20 - What kind of Cat Owner are You?
Latest Research Paper Published
04/08/20 - Pesticides and songbirds - New Paper
New Study: Does farm pesticide use harm UK birds?
01/08/20 - SBS Office Changes
To help conserve funds through this troubled time, we have come to the difficult decision to close up our physical office in Diss.
George, Ali, Lisa and Barbara are all working from home, with the fantastic support of our Trustee team, and we have come up with new and innovative ways to work and stay in touch with our supporters!
There is a small lag with our telephone technology and our 01379 number is currently down until our tech catches up - but this should be actioned in the next couple of days.
You can still contact us by post to our PO Box address and of course, by email to: email@example.com or using our contact form.
Watch this space for further developments!
UPDATE - our new telephone system is up and running! Sincere apologies if you have called and did not get through, but we should be firing on all cylinders again now!
04/05/2020 - No hope for waders without predator control
SBS Trustee’s letter in the Scottish Farmer
17/03/20 - AGM Postponed
SongBird Survival's Annual General Meeting, due to be held at the Oxford and Cambridge Club, Pall Mall, London on Tuesday 24th March 2020 at 12.30pm, has been postponed.
This decision is in direct response to the increase in the spread of Coronavirus across the UK and, we believe, in the best interests of our Members, Staff and Trustees.
The AGM will be held later in the year and we will let everyone know the details as soon a new date has been confirmed.
13/02/20 - General Licence Update February 2020
Six general licences reissued for the control of wild birds
Licences reissued on a temporary basis ahead of new licences coming into force on 1 August 2020
Defra has today (Wednesday 12 February) announced that six general licences for the control of wild birds will be reissued on a temporary basis ahead of new licences coming into force on 1 August 2020.
The current licences GL26, GL28, GL31, GL34, GL35 and GL36 will be reissued from 1 March to 31 July. No action is required by licence users, beyond the ongoing requirement to act in accordance with the licence conditions.
Defra announced a longer-term review of general licensing in June 2019 which has made significant progress. An online survey to gather key information from stakeholders closed on 5 December 2019, receiving over 4,400 responses from organisations, licence users and other stakeholders. A series of consultation workshops with stakeholders have also been held.
The reissue of licences is necessary to complete the required analysis of evidence, both from scientific sources and from the online survey, and to hold further stakeholder workshops so that longer-term licensing arrangements are informed by the best available evidence. As part of the process, Defra will also consider Natural England’s statutory advice.
Defra intends to publish new licences in early July to allow user groups to become acquainted with the changes before they officially come into force on 1 August.
30/04/20 – General Licences
We are sure many of you are seriously concerned, and rightly so, about Natural England’s sudden and questionable decision to revoke three general licences, specifically those which permit much needed predator control. General licence (GL06) which allowed users to take or kill certain species of wild bird to conserve flora and fauna has now been replaced with 19-02.
The new licencing application process will fulfil the requirement to abide more closely to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The previous system required only for the licence user to be satisfied that the reasons for control were needed, but the new system will ensure that Natural England can be satisfied that the reasons for the control are valid. Ambiguity around this issue was the nature of the legal arguments brought against Natural England and their subsequent, sudden and ill-timed decision to change the system.
The timing of this decision, in the middle of the wild bird nesting season, when there is a vital need to be able to continue normal predator control to ensure the breeding success of many of our red-listed birds, will no doubt have an adverse effect on many of you, and an even more drastic effect on the small birds you have been so valiantly protecting.
Research commissioned by our Charity, and carried out by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), has shown that for farmland hedgerow-nesting songbirds, overall annual nest success can be from 10-16% lower in sites where no corvid control is undertaken. Set against the 56% long-term decline in farmland bird populations since 1970, this an impressive result.
Even more impressive results have been obtained elsewhere for vulnerable ground-nesting farm and upland birds such as the globally near threatened red-listed curlew - the bird of greatest conservation concern in the UK - the red-listed lapwing and the amber-listed meadow pipit amongst others.
Natural England’s precipitate blanket revocation of General Licences, taken without consultation with those most likely to be adversely affected - farmers, land-managers & other conservationists - has been condemned, rightly, by many commentators, in Parliament, in the media and by concerned nature-loving members of the general public. The old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ applies here.
Sadly, too late for that now, but important to mitigate, swiftly, the damage that this ill-considered action will impose upon vulnerable prey species the length and breadth of England, from the uplands, across the farmed landscape to the urban towns and cities where the bulk of our nature-starved population now live.
The new process for the licencing system has now begun and you are able to apply for an individual licence to be able to control certain species of birds to conserve flora and fauna (19-02)
This can be done online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wild-birds-licence-to-control-certain-species If you need a paper copy of a form call Natural England on 020 8026 1089.
The webpage explains the full detail of how the licences work, what methods of control are allowed and the circumstances in which they can be used. Please ensure you read this carefully and abide by all of the conditions.
05/02/20 – SBS Saving more trees!
SBS and the World Land Trust work together with our partners at Barnwell Print to make the world a better place for wildlife
Since 2016, all of our Dawn Chorus Magazines, Sales Catalogues, leaflets and other printing has saved 2,830kg of carbon dioxide
This enables the World Land Trust to save 1,368m2 of critically threatened tropical forest
HOW DOES CARBON BALANCED CONTRIBUTE TO CONSERVATION?
Terrestrial habitats, such as forests, grasslands and wet peatlands, contain large volumes of carbon in their biomass and soils. However, these habitats are being destroyed or degraded at an unprecedented rate, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere and contributing to between 10 and 20 per cent of global GHG emissions.
The Carbon Balanced programme offsets emissions by protecting threatened habitats that would otherwise have been lost, avoiding the release of stored carbon. This also enables the regeneration of degraded habitats, which gradually re-absorb atmospheric CO2. In a warmer climate, it is predicted that tropical ecosystems will be able to store less carbon than they do now, so urgent action is required.
Find out more about the World Land Trust carbon balancing scheme here:
23/01/20 – SBS in Countrylife
Your Charity featured in this week's Country Life magazine
Tom Streeter, SBS Chairman had a chat with Kate Green about SBS and why we do what we do.
I'm no ornithologist, but I've done just about everything else in the British Countryside. I adore my SBS role now and hope we can deliver and make a difference. I felt before that we were slightly treading water, although we had a lot of knowledge, and we are a very open and honest charity that's not afraid of the uncomfortable truths if they save songbirds.
My 10 year old daughter said "Daddy, you've got to save songbirds!" so that swung it
Fostering enthusiasm for birdwatching in primary schools is one of SBS's priorities. "If you can engage five, six, seven year olds with feeding birds, it will stay with them for life," maintains Mr Streeter.
Someone asked "Why do we need songbirds and the dawn chorus?" and my daughter answered "It's Nature's Voice" - If there's an audible noise, then all is well. If it's not there, something is wrong.
Tom cites as a hindrance to biodiversity recovery the stand-o between some farmers and landowners with wildlife bodies and 'silly things happening', including the hanging of dead crows on BBC presenter Chris Packham's gate after Natural England's General License fiasco last year. "The polarisation that has taken o is causing stagnation", he observes. "Let's deal with the facts. We should all be working together, even if we're in different coloured shirts."
Read the full 6-page spread, including more of Tom's amazing photography in your Country Life magazine (January 22, 2020 issue)
21/12/20 – National Robin Day Raffle Winners!
Who won our Ruby Robin Christmas Raffle?
Thank you to all of you who purchased Ruby Robin Raffle tickets this year - we sold over 2,000 tickets!
Along with your generous donations and robin items sold in our shop we have already reached £6,000 for 2019 can you help us smash through this on Saturday 21st December?
Please do share this page and any emails or posts you see social media related to #NationalRobinDay so we can get even more people involved!
We need your help to make National Robin Day, the 21st December, to be the biggest, birdiest, robiniest day ever!
1st Prize: £1,000 cash - Mr Nick Suffolk
2nd Prize: Digital Camera - Mr Robin Dewell
3rd Prize: Bird Bath - Mrs Frances Read
4th Prize: 3 x Bird Photographer of the year books Susanne Poulton, Chritopher Blackburn and Sarah Potter
Runner up prizes: £20 gift vouchers: Colin & Diane Robertson and Helen Mulligan
29/11/20 – Songbird Watch
New SBS Partnership
We are so pleased to announce that the wonderful J T Seeds from Cambridgeshire have set up Songbird Watch
Formed in order to increase and protect the numbers of wild songbirds in the UK by optimising their nutrition, according to their needs, and giving everyone the opportunity to feed the very best nutritionally correct food that will keep our beautiful songbirds healthy and happy.
Not only do JT farm with the highest environmental methods, but they also produce the most wonderful foods to help our song and other small birds (as well as hedgehogs and other wildlife too!)
This is great news for wildlife - but especially for songbirds. Not only is JT and Songbird Watch helping wildlife where they are they are also contributing to SongBird Survival's research fund!
Every sale of their wonderful robin and songbird mix raises a donation for SBS!
12/07/20 - Defra Responds to Call For Evidence
Update on General Licences
The outcome from the call for evidence made by Defra on the use of general licences for the management of certain wild birds was published on 11th July 2019.
In May SongBird Survival submitted our evidence, on behalf of all our members and supporters.
Defra has now responded to this call. Details of this outcome:
Defra received over 4,000 responses to the call for evidence. 36 local and national organisations responded, including conservation, animal welfare, pest control, farming, game keeping and land management organisations.
The Secretary of State has decided to issue time-limited licences based on:
Information gathered through this call for evidence.
Other relevant evidence, including statutory advice from Natural England.
Defra will lead a further review later this year, working closely with Natural England. This will:
Include an initial public consultation which we intend to launch in the summer.
Give users an opportunity to engage once again by submitting any further evidence they would like considered.
Full details of Defra's statement can be found below
05/06/20 – Update on General Licences
Three new General Licences announced by Defra
After Defra called for evidence last month to better understand the way forward that they should take and they received over 4,000 submissions, including from SBS on your behalf, they have announced interim licencing valid until 29 February 2020.
Defra continues to lead a review for the long-term future of licencing but, for now, if you need to control certain species of wild birds to conserve wild birds and flora or fauna then you can use the new GL34 licence - click below to read the full details and any restrictions that may be in place for your location.
10/06/20 - SBS Research in the News
Great to see SBS research printed in the press and online.
From our original published paper to various journals, such as Phys.org and ScienceMag to papers, such as the Yorkshire Post, Western Morning News and Countryman's Weekly.
The conversation online on Twitter, Facebook and various forums has been fantastic.
30/05/20 - New SBS Research Paper Published
Some songbird nests are especially vulnerable to magpie predation.
A new study has revealed a range of factors that cause a variation in predation by magpies on farmland songbirds.
Researchers from University of Exeter and the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) placed 460 artificial nests on typical farmland in Warwickshire to study predator behaviour.
They found magpies were the most common predators, accounting for 70% of visits where the predator could be identified.
Nests inside magpie breeding territories were predated by magpies more often, especially late in the season when magpies themselves had young in their nests.
Intriguingly, some specific nest locations were repeatedly highly predated.
The findings come amid controversy over the rules governing which birds can be killed to protect wild birds, crops and livestock.
“This works suggests that, although most nest predators are magpies, not all magpies are nest predators,” said Dr Joah Madden, of the University of Exeter.
“The future challenge is to identify these problem individuals and accurately remove them.”
Dr Rufus Sage, who is head of lowland gamebird research at GWCT, said: “These results suggest that not all magpies are equally predatory.
“Predator removal could be more effective if management is targeted towards particularly predatory individuals, or locations at which predation rates are high.”
Tom Streeter, chairman of environmental charity SongBird Survival which commissioned the research, said: “We are delighted to have sponsored this important and, as it transpires, exceptionally timely research.
“SongBird Survival is very concerned about the significant adverse impacts that overabundant corvids can have on songbird populations, and this study helps further our understanding of the threat that some particularly predatory individuals pose.
“Moreover, the findings will help inform, better, the forthcoming wider reviews of general and class licensing due to be completed this year by both Natural England and Scottish National Heritage.”
Take a look at the paper, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, is entitled: “Predation of artificial nests in UK farmland by magpies (Pica pica): interacting environmental, temporal, and social factors influence a nest’s risk.”
15/05/20 – SBS Give Evidence to Defra
General Licences, Call for Evidence - SongBird Survival response
On 4 May 2019, Defra called for evidence relating to stakeholders’ views on the alternatives to killing or taking a specific bird species for:
Conserving flora and fauna.
Preserving public health or safety.
Preventing serious damage or disease (serious damage relates to serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber fisheries or inland waters) In particular, what are these alternatives and to which bird species do they relate? In your experience or evidence, how effective and practicable are they?
Experience and evidence of any benefits that were delivered by the 3 revoked licences, and:
Experience or evidence of any problems with or caused by the revocation of the 3 revoked general licences.
Our response is based upon views expressed by members, donors and other interested supporters who have contacted the Charity to date. Sadly, there has been insufficient time to consult, fully, all stakeholders due to the extremely short timeframe imposed. Our response covers General Licence (GL) 06, for the purpose of conservation of wild birds and flora and fauna, as it relates to the conservation of ‘song and other small birds’, generally understood to encompass most birds of the order Passeriformes (that make up over half of bird species globally), excluding corvids (carrion crow, magpie, jackdaw and jay) that prey upon the others of the order, and the invasive, non-native, ring-necked parakeet that excludes native song and other small birds from supplementary garden feeding stations, and may outcompete them for scarce cavity nesting sites (Peck et al, 2014), (Strubbe & Matthysen, 2007 & 2009).
Read our full response here:
08/01/20 – Cat Research Project – New Paper Published
SBS Cat Research Project publishes first research paper
Scientific studies suggest that both domestic and feral cats are having a serious effect on wildlife in countries across the world.
With a cat population of over 10 million in the UK, understanding the impact that cats have on our songbird populations is a crucial area of research.
In March 2017 SongBird Survival partnered with the University of Exeter to fund research into understanding cat owners as well as cats, with the aim of identifying potential solutions to cat predation of wildlife.
We know that securing the ongoing interest and input of cat owners is central to the success of this research. We are working directly with cat owners and other interested groups to assess cat behaviour. Through this joint research, we aim to move beyond the contention and social conflict which has plagued the issue of cat predation of wildlife and achieve real results for songbirds.
The project is now in its second year of funding a PhD student and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter, and the first paper, published today in the prestigious British Ecological Society's journal 'People and Nature' shows the findings from the first round of social science survey focus groups and studies.