Beast from the East brought dramatic 12% decline in Scottish bird numbers

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The Beast from the East which brought Scotland to a standstill last year caused a drop in bird numbers, according to new research.

The snowstorm caused chaos in February and March 2018, and killed off robins, wrens, woodfinches and woodpeckers.

The snowstorm caused chaos in February and March 2018, and killed off robins, wrens, woodfinches and woodpeckers.

The snowstorm caused chaos in February and March 2018, and killed off robins, wrens, woodfinches and woodpeckers.

A 12 per cent decline in the numbers of woodland birds was noted by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) - despite a long-term trend showing numbers of woodland birds are on the increase.

SNH ornithologist Simon Cohen said: "Over the long-term many of our woodland birds have been thriving as tree cover in Scotland has increased, so it's striking to note the recent dip in the fortunes of this group.

"Winter can be a tough time for birds and it's likely that the freezing temperatures and snow we experienced during the Beast from the East last year had a negative impact on many species.

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"Interestingly, others such as great tit, blue tit and coal tit seem unaffected and it's possible that they have benefited from garden feeding.

"People can do their bit to help wildlife during the colder months by putting out extra food and providing shelter in their gardens over winter."

Numbers of woodland birds have increased by nearly 60 per cent since 1994.

Dr Chris Wernham, head of British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Scotland, said: "It is fascinating to see the short-term decline of many resident species, likely as a result of the 'Beast from the East', in the context of long-term population change.

"Our ability to report changes in such detail is a testament to the power of citizen science, and highlights the valuable contributions of volunteers throughout Scotland.

"The ongoing decline of upland birds including waders is concerning.

"We hope that our programme of research, combined with even better monitoring in the uplands, will add to the pool of necessary evidence to allow all stakeholders to together target and implement effective conservation measures."

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