EU trend analysis of wintering waterbirds 2021

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We have published the trend of waterbirds wintering in the European Union for 7 species listed on Annex I of the Bird Directive, 18 species listed on its Annex II (i.e. the huntable species) and 8 species not listed on any of its annexes.

As a consequence of the Brexit, the new trends do not include data from the UK and this has resulted in a somewhat different picture compared to previous years. The multi-species indices for species listed on the two Annexes of the Directive are fairly similar. Both show a long-term fluctuating trend with an increase until the mid-1990s, followed by a decline until 2010 and subsequent recovery in more recent years. However, the multi-species trend confound some worrying tendencies: based on the wintering data, more species are declining than increasing in each of the species groups and the positive tendency in the multi-species indices are driven by only a few rapidly increasing species such as the Great White Egret (Ardea alba) on Annex I, Gadwall (Mareca strepera) and Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) on Annex II and the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) amongst the other species. Based on the wintering data, some of the Annex II species that have declined earlier show some recent recoveries such as the Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) and Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator). However, wintering waterbirds are well-known to readily adapt their distribution to the climatic conditions and the recent increases within the EU may signify a redistribution of populations to the Member States from the east (UK) and south (North Africa) in response to climate change. Therefore, these positive signs should be interpreted within the context of entire population trends and be confirmed with similar positive trends in the breeding numbers.