Sunday, 10 October 2010
A push and some Shovs
With most of the vis-mig action over, I looked around a few sites in the northern section of the valley specifically for Shoveler and amassed a reasonable total of 172. Most of these were at Rye Meads: a total of 105, with a single Garganey still present. The Lee Valley supports internationally important numbers of Shoveler. However, although one of a number of winter visiting wildfowl that seem to be declining in the valley, the Shoveler is the exception in that ‘short-stopping’ is not a likely reason. In fact, UK wintering numbers appear to be increasing as fewer UK birds move south for the winter.
Shoveler numbers in the Lee Valley have dropped by around 10% over the last 10 years. There has been concern over sharply declining numbers on the King George and Girling reservoirs. However a closer look at the data shows peak numbers on these sites were mostly in years when water levels were low for some reason, and this is the crux of the issue. Shoveler tend to prefer shallow, productive wetlands and much of the valley is heading in the opposite direction. Only a very few sites in the valley can manage water levels for the benefit of nature conservation. Perhaps more should be done for the Shoveler – we might even get a few waders as well!