Birding's top stories of 2019


The year 2019 produced plenty of major stories in the world of birds and birding. As is often the case, many of the headlines were shocking, even harrowing – but, amid the doom and gloom, there was plenty of cause for optimism. Without further ado, let us recap on some of the most viewed news stories of 2019 on the BirdGuides website ...


Robin causes a stir in Beijing

In January, hundreds of birders and photographers have been celebrating the arrival of a European Robin in the grounds of Beijing Zoo, China.

Hundreds of birders and photographers have visited Beijing Zoo in January (Terry Townshend / Birding Beijing).


Council pressured into removing netting from Norfolk cliffs

Mesh erected to prevent Sand Martins from nesting at Bacton generated a deluge of public criticism.


Millions of birds vacuumed to death annually in Mediterranean

BirdGuides broke the news in May that suction olive harvesting is decimating wintering bird populations in Iberia and beyond.

This photo of Sand Martins prevented from reaching their nesting sites on the Norfolk coast was one of the more emotive images to appear during the year (Maggie Wilcox).


Two men convicted after destroying multiple bird nests

The men cut down nearly 2 km of prime hedgerow during the middle of the breeding season.


Council accidentally bulldozes roadside nature reserve

The Kent site was home to tens of thousands of orchids as recently as summer 2018.

A stark contrast: Blue Bell Hill RNR in summer 2018 and spring 2019 (Plantlife).

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Trophy hunters paying to shoot Puffins in Iceland

As many as 100 of the threatened birds are killed in just one session, with some corpses then brought back as souvenirs.


Licences granted to kill multiple Red-listed species

Natural England and Natural Resources Wales gave the go-ahead for species such as Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Skylark and House Sparrow to be dispatched in the name of public safety.

The legal killing of Eurasian Skylarks by licence was one of the more shocking revelations of the year (Dave Williams).


Natural England forced to revoke General Licences

Following a legal challenge from Wild Justice, the advisory body had to cancel three licences for controlling certain bird species.


Octopus attacks Bald Eagle in Canada

The extraordinary incident was caught on camera in the north-west of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in late autumn.


Gyr Falcons released into the Scottish countryside

Scottish Natural Heritage has sensationally issued a licence to allow the practice, despite local residents' grave concerns.


Wild Justice and lawyers outside Defra Nobel House on 11 March ahead of meeting Natural England
The Wild Justice team was regularly in and among the 2019 headlines.