The latest report from the Wetland Bird Survey, Waterbirds in the UK 2013/14, was released today and reveals declines in a number of waterbirds. Many of these, such as Mallard and Pochard, have been well documented in previous reports, but a species that has received little focus previously is the Shelduck.
The latest report shows that, like many of ducks, the number of wintering Shelduck in the UK has declined. Numbers have fallen by around a quarter since the peak in the mid 1990s, with an especially marked decline in the past four years. The reasons behind this decline are unclear and likely to be complex, however, this has occurred against a backdrop of climate-driven shifts in the winter distribution of other waterbirds and the changing climate may therefore be affecting Shelduck too.
However, Shelduck are less migratory than other ducks declining in number in the UK and so the likelihood of distribution shift being a major cause of decline seems less likely. Gaining a sound understanding of what is driving the observed change in the UK is important for appropriate conservation responses to be identified.