Events for SOC members

We’re delighted to present the 2023/2024 programme of monthly Zoom meetings for all Club members, which are arranged in conjunction with the excellent local meetings organised by branches. To receive the Zoom joining link, you must be an SOC member and be signed up to the Branch News & Events – Talks & Workshops mailing list.

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Avian Flu, with Dr. Phil Atkinson (BTO), Dr. Jude Lane (RSPB) & Jenny Park (NatureScot)

| Talks | Q&A |

Avian flu is apparently a huge ongoing problem, decimating our seabirds. How can we put this natural event into perspective? Is this a disaster or a temporary natural readjustment of populations? And what should we doing about it?

Dr Phil Atkinson - British Trust for Ornithology

Since the start of the recent 2021 outbreak of H5NI Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the UK, a number of different quantitative data sources on the mortality associated with HPAI have been collated by statutory nature conservation bodies, and conservation and volunteer-based organisations. These ranged from detailed post-hoc assessment of mortality in individual sites (e.g. reviews by site managers, or individuals tasked to undertake a detailed analysis of mortality data), ongoing data entry into three national databases by site managers, to ad-hoc observations submitted by the birdwatchers in the BTO BirdTrack app and website. For some species, specific assessments of mortality in a site or group of sites has been published. The UK hosts internationally important numbers of breeding waterbirds and this species group was most affected with minimum estimates of mortality in some common species exceeding 10% of the UK's breeding population. Most affected were Great Skua Stercorarius skua, Northern Gannet Morus bassanus, Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis and Black-headed Gulls Chroicocephalus ridibundus. Other gull, terns and auk species were also heavily impacted. During the outbreak management guidelines were put in place and a number of data gaps and research priorities identified.

Phil is responsible for the portfolio of work in the Framing Futures team at the British Trust for Ornithology. The focus of the team’s work is to use BTO’s science to track the impacts of, and inform responses to, future climate change, wildlife disease and other new environmental threats to the UK’s wild bird populations.

Dr Jude Lane - Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The current strain of High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) has affected wild birds in an unprecedented way. The Northern Gannet was one of the species most greatly impacted by an outbreak of HPAI in 2022.

Jude is a Conservation Scientist at the RSPB and has been undertaking research on the Bass Rock Gannets since 2015. As part of a team of researchers from multiple organisations she was able to make observations and record the impact of the virus outbreak at the Bass Rock colony. Jude will present the results of these observations, including the ‘black-eye’ finding and the unusual behaviour at sea of some birds tracked with GPS during the outbreak.

Jenny Park - NatureScot

Jenny has been part of the NatureScot avian flu team for the past 18 months, working alongside ornithologists and wildlife management specialists to develop a response to the outbreak.  This has included supporting the Scottish Avian Flu Task Force, coordinating wild bird mortality reporting and sample collection for testing, and communications with stakeholders. She will discuss the chronology of the outbreak in Scotland, and what NatureScot’s response has been so far.