Aggregations of breeding birds

Context

Breeding bird features on SSSIs can be notified if they qualify under criteria 3.1, 3.2, 3.6, and 3.8 of Chapter 14 'Birds' of the Guidelines for Selection of Biological SSSIs.  In Northern Ireland, ASSIs are selected on a very similar basis – the Guidelines for the Selection of Biological ASSIs in Northern Ireland is an addendum to the SSSI guidelines rather than an alternative. 
 
The criteria essentially cover:
  • breeding aggregations which contain 1% or more of the national population of a species;
  • smaller isolated colonies, e.g. of seabirds, herons and sand martins;
  • upland species, e.g. waders;
  • locations for rare species.
 
The Selection Guidelines for Special Protection Areas enable SPAs to be selected where an area is:
  • used by 1% or more of the Great Britain (or in Northern Ireland the all-Ireland) population of a species on Annex I of the Birds Directive; 
  • used 1% or more of the biogeographic population of a migratory species, or;
  • used by 20,000 individual breeding seabirds (seabird assemblage).  Within the breeding seabird assemblage individual species may be separately listed as qualifying features if their populations exceed 1% of the national population or 2,000 individuals.
 
Breeding bird populations can also qualify under criteria 5 and 6 (formerly 3a and 3c) of the Ramsar Convention: 
  • Criterion 5. A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds.
  • Criterion 6. A wetland should be considered internationally important if it regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterbird.
 

Summary statistics

  SPA Ramsar A/SSSI Total
Favourable condition 76% 92% 71% 73%
Main monitoring coverage S, W, NI S, W, NI S, NI  
Reported assessments 350 13 410 773
Completeness of assessments 57% 7% unknown  
Distribution of features       UK
 

Number of assessments reported by country and site type

Country SPA Ramsar SSSI/ASSI
England 0 0 42
Scotland 322 10 350
Wales 20 0 0
Northern Ireland 8 3 18
United Kingdom 350 13 410
 

Natura features

List of Natura 2000 interest features within this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported Total no. of features % assessed
Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Sedge warbler 0 1 0%
Acrocephalus scirpaceus Eurasian reed warbler 0 2 0%
Actitis hypoleucos Common sandpiper 0 2 0%
Alca torda Razorbill 15 18 83%
Alcedo atthis Common kingfisher 0 1 0%
Anas clypeata(North-western/Central Europe) Northern shoveler 0 4 0%
Anas crecca(North-western Europe) Eurasian teal 0 1 0%
Anas penelope(Western Siberia/North-western/North-eastern Europe) Eurasian wigeon 0 2 0%
Anas platyrhynchos(North-western Europe) Mallard 0 2 0%
Anas querquedula(Western Siberia/Europe/Western Africa) Garganey 0 2 0%
Anas strepera(North-western Europe) Gadwall 0 4 0%
Aquila chrysaetos Golden eagle 6 8 75%
Asio flammeus Short-eared owl 3 7 43%
Aythya ferina(North-western/North-eastern Europe) Common pochard 0 3 0%
Botaurus stellaris(Europe (breeding)) Great bittern 0 5 0%
Burhinus oedicnemus(Western Europe (breeding)) Stone-curlew 0 2 0%
Calidris alpina schinzii Dunlin 5 6 83%
Calidris alpina schinzii(Baltic/UK/Ireland) Dunlin 0 2 0%
Caprimulgus europaeus European nightjar 0 10 0%
Carduelis flavirostris Twite 0 2 0%
Catharacta skua Great skua 9 9 100%
Charadrius hiaticula(Europe/Northern Africa (wintering)) Ringed plover 4 7 57%
Charadrius morinellus(Europe (breeding)) Eurasian dotterel 6 8 75%
Circus aeruginosus Eurasian marsh harrier 1 7 14%
Circus cyaneus Hen harrier 8 13 62%
Circus pygargus Montagu’s harrier 0 1 0%
Coturnix coturnix Common quail 0 1 0%
Crex crex Corncrake 9 10 90%
Cygnus olor(Britain) Mute swan 0 1 0%
Emberiza schoeniclus Reed bunting 0 1 0%
Falco columbarius Merlin 7 14 50%
Falco peregrinus Peregrine falcon 2 9 22%
Falco subbuteo Eurasian hobby 0 2 0%
Fratercula arctica Atlantic puffin 15 17 88%
Fulica atra(North-western Europe (wintering)) Common coot 0 1 0%
Fulmarus glacialis(North Atlantic) Northern fulmar 22 24 92%
Gallinago gallinago(Europe (breeding)) Common snipe 0 4 0%
Gallinula chloropus(Europe/Northern Africa) Common moorhen 0 2 0%
Gavia arctica(Western Siberia/Europe) Black-throated diver 11 11 100%
Gavia stellata Red-throated diver 9 10 90%
Haematopus ostralegus(Europe & Northern/Western Africa) Eurasian oystercatcher 3 4 75%
Hydrobates pelagicus European storm-petrel 6 8 75%
Hydrobates pelagicus(World) European storm-petrel 0 1 0%
Larus argentatus(North-western Europe (breeding) and Iceland/Western Europe (breeding)) Herring gull 8 8 100%
Larus canus Common gull 1 1 100%
Larus fuscus(Western Europe/Mediterranean/Western Africa) Lesser Black-backed gull 2 6 33%
Larus marinus(North-east Atlantic (breeding)) Greater black-backed gull 5 6 83%
Larus melanocephalus Mediterranean gull 0 3 0%
Larus ridibundus(North-western Europe (breeding)) Black-headed gull 0 1 0%
Limosa limosa limosa(Western Europe/W Africa) Black-tailed godwit 0 2 0%
Locustella luscinioides Savi's warbler 0 1 0%
Locustella naevia Common grasshopper warbler 0 1 0%
Loxia scotica Scottish crossbill 0 5 0%
Lullula arborea Wood lark 0 6 0%
Melanitta nigra(Western Siberia/Western & Northern Europe/North-western Africa) Black (common) scoter 0 2 0%
Milvus milvus Red kite 2 2 100%
Morus bassanus Northern gannet 8 9 89%
Numenius arquata(Europe (breeding)) Eurasian curlew 0 2 0%
Numenius phaeopus(Europe/Western Africa) Whimbrel 1 1 100%
Oceanodroma leucorhoa Leach's storm-petrel 6 6 100%
Oenanthe oenanthe Northern wheatear 0 1 0%
Pandion haliaetus Osprey 6 9 67%
Pernis apivorus European honey-buzzard 0 1 0%
Phalacrocorax aristotelis(Northern Europe) European shag 10 12 83%
Phalacrocorax carbo(North-western Europe) Great cormorant 4 6 67%
Phalaropus lobatus Red-necked phalarope 1 1 100%
Philomachus pugnax(Western Africa (wintering)) Ruff 0 2 0%
Phylloscopus sibilatrix Wood warbler 0 1 0%
Pluvialis apricaria(North-western Europe (breeding)) European golden plover 2 8 25%
Podiceps auritus(North-western Europe) Slavonian grebe 5 6 83%
Podiceps cristatus(North-western Europe (wintering)) Great crested grebe 0 3 0%
Porzana porzana(Europe/Africa) Spotted crake 1 1 100%
Puffinus puffinus Manx shearwater 3 4 75%
Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Red-billed chough 8 8 100%
Recurvirostra avosetta(Western Europe/Western Mediterranean (breeding)) Pied avocet 0 6 0%
Rissa tridactyla(Eastern Atlantic (Breeding)) Black-legged kittiwake 26 29 90%
Saxicola rubetra Whinchat 0 1 0%
Seabird assemblage Seabird assemblage 29 35 83%
Stercorarius parasiticus Arctic skua 6 7 86%
Sterna albifrons(Eastern Atlantic (breeding)) Little tern 4 25 16%
Sterna dougallii(Europe (breeding)) Roseate tern 2 6 33%
Sterna hirundo(Northern/Eastern Europe (breeding)) Common tern 11 24 46%
Sterna paradisaea(Arctic (breeding)/Southern Oceans (wintering)) Arctic tern 14 16 88%
Sterna sandvicensis(Western Europe/Western Africa) Sandwich tern 6 15 40%
Sylvia undata Dartford warbler 0 7 0%
Tadorna tadorna(North-western Europe) Common shelduck 0 2 0%
Tetrao urogallus Western capercaillie 0 10 0%
Tringa glareola(Europe (breeding)) Wood sandpiper 3 3 100%
Tringa nebularia(Europe/Western Africa) Common greenshank 1 2 50%
Tringa totanus Common redshank 3 8 38%
Troglodytes troglodytes fridariensis Fair Isle Wren 1 1 100%
Turdus torquatus Ring ouzel 0 1 0%
Uria aalge Common guillemot 30 30 100%
Uria aalge(East Atlantic) Common guillemot 0 1 0%
Vanellus vanellus(Europe (breeding)) Northern lapwing 0 5 0%
Breeding bird assemblage Breeding bird assemblage 0 5 0%
 
Natura 2000 comprises Special Protection Areas (under the Birds Directive) and Special Areas for Conservation (under the Habitats and Species Directive). The list presented here includes all of the qualifying interest features under these Directives, and shows the proportion of these features for which a condition assessment has been made.
 

Ramsar features

List of Ramsar Convention interest features within this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported
Anser anser Greylag goose 0
Calidris alpina schinzii Dunlin 3
Charadrius hiaticula(Europe/Northern Africa (wintering)) Ringed plover 2
Crex crex Corncrake 1
Haematopus ostralegus(Europe & Northern/Western Africa) Eurasian oystercatcher 2
Sterna hirundo(Northern/Eastern Europe (breeding)) Common tern 1
Sterna sandvicensis(Western Europe/Western Africa) Sandwich tern 3
Tringa totanus Common redshank 1
 
The list presented here includes all of the qualifying species under the Convention on Wetlands (The Ramsar Convention), and shows the proportion of these features for which a condition assessment has been made.
 

SSSI features

List of SSSI and ASSI interest features in this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported
Alca torda Razorbill 21
Anas acuta(North-western Europe) Northern pintail 1
Anas strepera Gadwall 1
Anser anser Greylag goose 3
Aquila chrysaetos Golden eagle 1
Ardea cinerea Grey heron 14
Asio flammeus Short-eared owl 1
Aythya ferina(North-western/North-eastern Europe) Common pochard 1
Aythya fuligula(North-western Europe) Tufted duck 1
Bucephala clangula(North-western/Central Europe) Common goldeneye 2
Burhinus oedicnemus(Western Europe (breeding)) Stone-curlew 1
Calidris alpina alpina(Northern Siberia/Europe/Western Africa) Dunlin 2
Calidris alpina schinzii Dunlin 7
Calidris temminickii Temminck's stint 1
Catharacta skua Great skua 8
Cepphus grylle Black guillemot 3
Cettia cetti Cetti's warbler 1
Charadrius hiaticula(Europe/Northern Africa (wintering)) Ringed plover 3
Charadrius morinellus(Europe (breeding)) Eurasian dotterel 2
Circus aeruginosus Eurasian marsh harrier 1
Circus cyaneus Hen harrier 10
Crex crex Corncrake 1
Falco peregrinus Peregrine falcon 1
Fratercula arctica Atlantic puffin 14
Fulmarus glacialis(North Atlantic) Northern fulmar 16
Gallinago gallinago(Europe (breeding)) Common snipe 1
Gavia arctica(Western Siberia/Europe) Black-throated diver 13
Gavia stellata Red-throated diver 9
Haematopus ostralegus(Europe & Northern/Western Africa) Eurasian oystercatcher 1
Hydrobates pelagicus European storm-petrel 10
Larus argentatus(North-western Europe (breeding) and Iceland/Western Europe (breeding)) Herring gull 1
Larus canus Common gull 2
Larus fuscus Lesser black-backed gull 2
Larus marinus Great black-backed gull 1
Larus marinus(North-east Atlantic (breeding)) Greater black-backed gull 5
Larus ridibundus Black-headed gull 1
Larus ridibundus(North-western Europe (breeding)) Black-headed gull 1
Lullula arborea Wood lark 1
Morus bassanus Northern gannet 7
Numenius arquata(Europe (breeding)) Eurasian curlew 1
Numenius phaeopus(Europe/Western Africa) Whimbrel 6
Oceanodroma leucorhoa Leach's storm-petrel 5
Pandion haliaetus Osprey 1
Parus cristatus Crested tit 2
Phalacrocorax aristotelis(Northern Europe) European shag 14
Phalacrocorax carbo(North-western Europe) Great cormorant 10
Phalaropus lobatus Red-necked phalarope 2
Pluvialis apricaria(North-western Europe (breeding)) European golden plover 10
Podiceps auritus(North-western Europe) Slavonian grebe 8
Podiceps nigricollis Black-necked grebe 1
Puffinus puffinus Manx shearwater 4
Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Red-billed chough 3
Rissa tridactyla(Eastern Atlantic (Breeding)) Black-legged kittiwake 24
Somateria mollissima Common eider 3
Stercorarius parasiticus Arctic skua 15
Sterna albifrons(Eastern Atlantic (breeding)) Little tern 3
Sterna dougalli Roseate tern 1
Sterna dougallii(Europe (breeding)) Roseate tern 3
Sterna hirundo Common tern 2
Sterna hirundo(Northern/Eastern Europe (breeding)) Common tern 8
Sterna paradisaea(Arctic (breeding)/Southern Oceans (wintering)) Arctic tern 15
Sterna sandvicensis Sandwich tern 1
Sterna sandvicensis(Western Europe/Western Africa) Sandwich tern 6
Tadorna tadorna(North-western Europe) Common shelduck 1
Tetrao tetrix Black grouse 1
Tringa nebularia(Europe/Western Africa) Common greenshank 12
Tringa totanus Common redshank 2
Uria aalge Common guillemot 35
Vanellus vanellus(Europe (breeding)) Northern lapwing 1
Rare species aggregation (Inland breeding cormorants) Rare species aggregation (Inland breeding cormorants) 1
Seabird colony Seabird colony 37
 
This list has not been fully standardised at a UK level yet. It is intended to show the principal constituent "feature types" for this reporting category.
 

Maps - distribution

UK distibution of reported interest features

Distribution of reported interest features.

Map showing the locations of the 10km squares in which at least one condition assessment has been reported. It does not show features that have not yet been assessed.

 

Maps - International

Distribution of SPA and Ramsar features showing assessments of favourability Condition of SPA and Ramsar features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SPA and Ramsasr features
Distribution of SPA and Ramsar features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SPA and Ramsar features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
The implication of the unfavourable-recovering condition assessments is that at some point in the future these features should become favourable. This map shows the effect of that recovery by counting the favourable and unfavourable-recovering assessments together.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not have information on the timescale of the predicted recovery, which may be influenced by many past, natural and human related factors. A sustained sympathetic management regime is more likely to result in favourable condition being attained.

Key: Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable:

Natura map legend - Key: proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

Maps - SSSI

Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features
Distribution of SSSI/ASSI features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
The implication of the unfavourable-recovering condition assessments is that at some point in the future these features should become favourable. This map shows the effect of that recovery by counting the favourable and unfavourable-recovering assessments together.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not have information on the timescale of the predicted recovery, which may be influenced by many past, natural and human related factors. A sustained sympathetic management regime is more likely to result in favourable condition being attained.

Key: Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable:

SSSI map legend - Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

Condition summary

Reporting category condition summary on Natura 2000, Ramsar and SSSI/ASSI sites

This lists the 10 different condition assessments and presents a bar chart showing the number of features reported within the SSSI series, the Natura 2000 series (either SPA for bird features or SAC for features other than birds), and the Ramsar Convention. Note that for Natura 2000 and Ramsar we are able to estimate the number of features that have not been assessed during the 6 year reporting period - we are unable to do this for SSSI/ASSI because we do not have an overall list of notified interest features for these designations.

 

NB favourable unclassified and unfavourable unclassified have been used in this first six year cycle to get around difficulties in identifying trends in condition as common standards monitoring is implemented. It is expected that these categories will not be used for subsequent assessments of a feature.

 

Condition assessment - Natura 2000 features

The number and proportion of assessments for Natura 2000 (SAC and SPA) interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for Natura 2000 (SAC and SPA) interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the �unfavourable� category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except �unfavourable recovering� which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Condition assessment - Ramsar features

The number and proportion of assessments for Ramsar Convention interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for Ramsar interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the unfavourable category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except unfavourable recovering which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Condition assessment - SSSI features

The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the �unfavourable� category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except �unfavourable recovering� which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Adverse activities

The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature
The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature. More than one adverse activity may be reported for each feature.
 

Management measures

The measures summary bar chart lists the management measures relevant to the reporting category
For each "measure" the chart shows the number of interest features where that measure has been taken on a site to improve or maintain the condition of an interest feature. More than one measure may be reported for each feature assessed.
 

Interpretation

73% of breeding bird features reported are in favourable condition.  This is above the average for species features and well above the average for all features combined.  71% of A/SSSI features and 76% of SPA features reported are in favourable condition.  A further 3% of features reported for each of these types of sites are unfavourable-recovering.  92% of Ramsar features reported are in favourable condition, with a further 8% unfavourable-recovering. 
 
Within these figures, details include:
  • 90% of diver features reported are in favourable condition.  Breeding divers Gavidae are restricted to Scotland.  Two SPAs have unfavourable black-throated diver Gavia arctica features.  The adverse activities mentioned for divers include water management and over-grazing.  These relate to the need to ensure sympathetic management around the small lochans where these species typically breed.
  • 76% of wader features reported are in favourable condition.  No adverse activities were specifically reported for these species.
    • The oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus is a widespread breeding wader in the UK, but in only a few places does it occur at sufficient density to benefit from site-based conservation – notably in the machair of the Scottish Western Isles.  The species is reported as favourable within the three SPAs classified for it.  
    • Other species breeding within the machair SPAs: ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula, dunlin Calidris alpina and redshank Tringa totanus, were also in generally favourable condition.
    • The dotterel Charadrius morinellus is an alpine species that has a restricted breeding range in upland Britain.  All dotterel SPAs are in Scotland and together support around 56% of the total British population; all the dotterel populations reported are in favourable condition.  Two SPAs remain to be assessed.
  • 71% of seabird features reported are in favourable condition.  Within this grouping, fulmar, shearwaters and petrels are 81% favourable, terns 61%, auks 77%, and gulls 51%.  A number of breeding seabirds are doing well within the SPA network, with generally favourable assessments, including common guillemot Uria aalge, razorbill Alca torda, northern gannet Morus bassanus, northern fulmar Fulmarus glacialis, great skua Catharacta skua and atlantic puffin Fratercula arctica.  However, for many seabirds there are mixed fortunes with a considerable number of colonies with unfavourable numbers.  This is not unsurprising given that many populations have been shown to be in decline, largely as a result of declining food availability.  Population dynamics, fisheries management, natural events and recreation and disturbance are all mentioned as activities linked with unfavourable condition.
  • 78% of bird of prey features reported are in favourable condition.  Hen harriers Circus cyaneus are features in 14 SPAs; the condition of eight of these populations was reported.  At six of these sites, hen harrier numbers are in favourable condition.  Taking account of all assessments reported, including those on SSSI sites, 61% are in favourable condition.  Burning, grazing, natural events, recreation and disturbance are all mentioned as adverse activities leading to unfavourable condition, with management agreements important for securing favourable condition.

Compared with the number of assessments reported, relatively little information on adverse activities and measures taken to address unfavourability or maintain features in favourable condition was provided.  However, a small amount of analysis is possible: burning is mentioned mainly for raptors and two other moorland-nesting species; fisheries management is mainly reported as an issue for seabirds; natural events are listed for a wide variety of species, including a number of seabird species; population dynamics is listed mainly for seabirds; recreation and disturbance is listed for a variety of species. 

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