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Dr Phil Smith: Wildlife notes April 2021

Wheatear Ainsdale LNR

According to the Met. Office, April was: “An incredibly notable month in terms of statistics.” It provided the lowest average minimum mean temperatures for the country since 1922 and was one of the sunniest and driest Aprils on record. Here, not a drop of rain fell for 30 days between 28th March and 27th April. As reported last year, these spring droughts are known to be linked to climate change but the general public is not being told this.

City’s bright lights attract migrant birds

Redwing, Liz Cutting

Results from a new study reveal that artificial light sources associated with urban areas can disrupt the natural movement patterns of birds migrating at night across the UK. Using a combination of passive acoustic monitoring devices and the latest computing approaches, researchers Simon Gillings and Chris Scott were able to determine that calling rates of migrating Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Redwings were significantly higher over brightly lit urban areas, most likely a consequence of the birds being attracted by the artificial lighting.

Wetland creation at Croxteth Country Park

Wetland creation Croxteth Park, Mersey Rivers Trust

Great to see more wetland creation work being undertaken in our local area, this time at Croxteth Country Park!

The Wetlands at Croxteth Park is part of the wider Upper Alt Misconnections currently being undertaken by Mersey Rivers Trust and Croxteth Park Volunteer Group (CPVG). 

The purpose of the wetland creation is to improve water quality, reduce flood risk and provide habitat for wildlife.

British and Irish gardens fuel a novel reverse migration for Blackcaps in winter

 Blackcap by Benjamin Van Doren

The allure of garden feeders has transformed the biology of a bird that visits Britain and Ireland for the winter. New research involving the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Oxford University and the Max Planck Institute, and just published in the journal Global Change Biology, provides further evidence of how humans are shaping the natural world through simple changes in our own back gardens. Increasingly mild winters and abundant garden bird food has led Blackcaps to establish new migratory routes, lead more sedentary winter lives, and perhaps even modify their anatomy.

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