Washout ‘may be fatal for birdlife’

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The outlook for many species of farmland birds has been described as “extremely grim” due to food shortages brought about by abysmal summer weather.

The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust organisation said that the wet summer was disastrous for hedgerow berries, fruit and grain supplies.

“Last year our hedgerows and woods were full of nuts and berries, but this is not the case this winter,” said Peter Thompson, GWCT farmland biodiversity advisor. “This means that there will not only be a very limited supply of food for our own native British birds, but also for the wide range of birds heading for our shores from Europe. If we have a prolonged cold winter with a lot of snow, many birds are destined not to survive.”

The problem is made worse because farmers, who are paid under environmental stewardship schemes to grow seed mixtures to feed birds over winter, have had a bad harvest.