Nightingale Recovery Project
Nightingales are among our most loved and iconic species. Their beautiful and melodious song has inspired poets, musicians and artists for hundreds of years. Long distant migrants, they arrive in south east Britain in April, where they breed before returning to West Africa in August.
Nightingales in decline
Despite the celebrated place they hold in our culture, nightingales are on the decline. In Hampshire, the nightingale has declined by 80% since the 1980s. During the most recent BTO survey, the population had dropped to 61 – 65 pairs and their overall range fell by three quarters. There’s strong evidence that the loss of scrub habitat, particularly due to development and land use changes, and grazing by deer, have led to a significant drop in nightingale numbers.
This is something that’s sadly been replicated across the country – our nightingales are in crisis and need our help.
Saving our nightingales
We’re working with the British Trust for Ornithology and Hampshire Ornithological Society to organise volunteers to carry out surveys in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight during the nightingale’s breeding season to find out where the birds are nesting and which areas need protection.
To help establish the locations and number of breeding territories of our local nightingales, we are carrying out a survey of areas of suitable habitat in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight during the 2018 breeding season.
Recent research suggests that only unpaired males sing during the darkest hours of the night, whereas all territorial males sing in the daytime, especially at dawn and dusk to protect their territory. By identifying the proportion of night and daytime singers, we may be able to learn more about the numbers and ditribution of breeding pairs.
Armed with that information we will engage with local landowners and work with them support nightingales on their land.