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Wading birds' decline raises concern

London: The numbers of wading birds adorning the British estuaries during the winter months are declining, research shows which is a cause of concern for conservationists.

The findings from the Wetland Bird Survey shed new light that the eight most abundant species of the wading birds whose population is seeing a decline since the last decade include ringed plovers, oystercatchers, redshank and dunlin.

The Wetland Bird Survey, a partnership between the BTO, the government's advisory joint nature conservation committee and the RSPB, in association with WWT, keeps a track of the birds at more than 2,000 wetland sites ranging from estuaries to ponds across Britain.

Going by the conservationists, this reduction in their population is attributed to several factors, which entail climatic changes forcing the birds to move outside England.

Research conducted by Wetland International has revealed that winter populations of a few species have recently moved away from British to Dutch and German coasts, as a consequence of climatic change.

Since the last decade, ringed plovers have registered 39 per cent decline in their population in over-wintering birds and also those breeding in England, closely followed by Redshank at 26 per cent and Dunlin at 23 per cent.

Another species Curlew and oystercatchers numbers have dropped by 17 percent and 15 per cent respectively in the decade ending June 2012.

The data collected by thousands of volunteers show that the population of Knot and the bar-tailed godwit has fallen by 7 per cent and 10 percent respectively with Grey plover declining by 21 per cent.

Close examinations of the customary sites, which include the Wash, Morecambe Bay and Thames Estuary, will also give an insight as to whether there are any site-specific concerns.

The Wash holds largest number of birds, minimum 350,000 birds at one time, which are not just waders but also ducks such as widgeon and pintail, and geese such as the dark-bellied brent goose.