Welsh icon is back

26 Apr 2018 | No. 2018-13

Synonymous with Wales, the latest results from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) show that the Red Kite is well and truly back and here to stay. The Welsh population has shown an increase of 368% from 1995 to 2016, one of the largest of any Welsh breeding bird monitored by the survey.

The Red Kite has been increasing across the whole of the UK in recent years thanks to a reintroduction scheme, but nowhere is this more poignant than here in Wales. From around 80 pairs in the early 1990s a Welsh population of over a thousand can now be counted.

The BBS report gives population trends for 60 species of breeding birds in Wales and for some the news is encouraging. The Grey Wagtail, a bird of fast flowing streams, has increased by 78% over the last five years, whilst others, such as Swift have seen their population fall.

Through local training initiatives we’ve seen the number of volunteers taking part increase since 2012, and this improved coverage gives us higher quality data, and more confidence in the trends calculated. Despite these increases in participation, there are still squares available for skilled volunteers, able to identify bird species by sight and sound, to get involved.

Sarah Harris, BBS Organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology, said, “Having lived in Wales for a number of years, it is wonderful to see the Red Kite doing so well, we owe a great debt of thanks to the hundreds of surveyors who go out each summer and count Wales’ breeding birds, without them our knowledge would be much poorer.”

Stephen Bladwell, RSPB Cymru Biodiversity Manager, said: “It’s great to see the iconic red kite increasing in numbers across Wales, going from one of our rarest to one of our more commonly encountered species in a few decades due to protection and conservation initiatives. Throughout this time the efforts of dedicated volunteers and groups like the Welsh Kite Trust have charted this dramatic recovery. It’s also fantastic that the efforts of the equally dedicated BBS surveyors can pick-up the recording of this species now, adding to our understanding of the health of our landscapes.”

The BBS is a partnership between the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and reports annually on how Britain’s breeding birds are faring.

Contact Details

Sarah Harris
(Breeding Bird Survey Organiser, BTO)
Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: sarah.harris [at] bto.org (subject: Welsh%20icon%20is%20back)

Kelvin Jones
(BTO Wales)
Office: 01248 383285
Mobile: 07979713282
Email kelvin.jones [at] bto.org (subject: Welsh%20icon%20is%20back)
Mike Toms
(BTO Head of Communications)
Office: 01842 750050
(Mon-Thurs 9am to 5.30pm) (Fri 9am to 5pm)
Email: press [at] bto.org (subject: Welsh%20icon%20is%20back)

Images are available for use alongside this News Release. Please contact images [at] bto.org (subject: Welsh%20icon%20is%20back)  quoting reference April 2018-13
The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews. Please contact us to book an interview Office: 01842 750050

Notes for Editors

Population trends for 60 bird species in Wales have been calculated in the latest BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) annual report. BBS is the main scheme for monitoring the population changes of the UK’s common breeding birds.

In 2016, 337 BBS squares were covered in Wales by volunteers.

The latest report can be found here

The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) Partnership: The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey is a partnership jointly funded by the BTO, RSPB and JNCC, with fieldwork conducted by volunteers.

The BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a UK-wide project aimed at keeping track of changes in the breeding populations of widespread bird species. The BBS involves around 2,700 participants who survey more than 3,800 sites across the UK, enabling us to monitor the population changes of 117 bird species. Knowing to what extent bird populations are increasing or decreasing is fundamental to bird conservation.

This important survey is carried out by volunteer birdwatchers throughout the UK, who receive no financial reward or expenses for their efforts. We are indebted to them for their tremendous support.

The BTO is the UK's leading bird research organisation. Up to 60,000 birdwatchers contribute to the BTO's surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Bangor (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO's investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.

Related content