Wednesday, September 27, 2023
HomeNatureHen flu – some comparisons between 2021 and 2022 – Mark Avery

Hen flu – some comparisons between 2021 and 2022 – Mark Avery

This 12 months and final: this time final 12 months, from the tip of July to the start of October, there have been hardly any constructive instances of fowl flu in wild birds recorded by the federal government surveillance scheme. In 10 full weeks there have been solely three weeks with constructive instances, although these have been all Nice Skuas, and I suppose that we have been all labouring below the impression that fowl flu was at its summer season low level and questioning whether or not it was going to spring up once more in excessive or low numbers within the coming winter. Certainly, in weeks 20-29 there have been no constructive data in wild birds detected by this surveillance scheme in any respect.

What a distinction a 12 months makes. We’re at the moment in week 38 of 2022. In weeks 20-29 of 2022 there have been almost 100 constructive instances reported involving 20+ species – not a single report in 2021.  In weeks 30-37 in 2022, there have already been over 60 constructive instances involving over 20 species – in contrast with these few Nice Skuas from final 12 months.

That may be a measure of how issues have modified. Not an excellent measure as a result of that is primarily based on advert hoc exams, in response to the general public reporting useless birds and never on any designed sampling regime. The official public figures don’t give any indication of what number of birds died from fowl flu in that a couple of corpses will probably be analysed from massive die-offs, and it is just the variety of corpses giving constructive outcomes which are reported, not the variety of birds regarded as concerned. Destructive outcomes should not reported, so there is no such thing as a prospect of inspecting the publicly out there information and getting any, even the vaguest, impression of how widespread the virus is within the species listed.

The phrases you’ve got learn to date on this weblog are, by far, a extra detailed comparability of this 12 months’s information with final 12 months’s information than something made out there by APHA, DEFRA and many others.

By analogy, think about that individuals have been falling useless within the streets and a few of them have been then examined to see whether or not or not they’d died of a specific illness. The data now we have for birds are equal to these information for individuals the place just some corpses have been reported, just some reported corpses have been examined, solely the constructive outcomes have been listed in a desk every week and if hundreds died at a soccer recreation it might solely be the variety of corpses examined that will be reported not the overall variety of our bodies from which that small quantity was taken.

We should always regard the revealed instances of birds testing constructive for fowl flu as being within the ‘tip of an iceberg’ class – besides, this time final 12 months there was little or no signal of ice wherever whereas this 12 months we will clearly see the iceberg and may solely speculate about how way more ice there may be below the water – however there’s a lot, and it’s much more than final 12 months.

However what of the species affected?


The species lists for 2021 and 2022:

2021, as much as and together with week 37, 10 absolutely recognized species: Buzzard, Canada Goose, Nice Skua, Knot, Mute Swan, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pink-footed Goose, Purple Kite, Rook

2021, an extra 15 species, weeks 38-52: Barnacle Goose, Black-headed Gull, Black Swan, Curlew, Nice Crested Grebe, Gray Heron, Greylag Goose, Herring Gull, Kestrel, Lapwing, Mallard, Sparrowhawk, White-tailed Eagle, Whooper Swan, Widgeon (sic).

2022, as much as and together with week 37, not less than 50 absolutely recognized species:  Arctic Tern, Barnacle Goose, Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Widespread Tern, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Eider, Gadwall, Gannet,  Golden Eagle, Goshawk, Nice Black-backed Gull, Nice-crested Grebe, Nice Northern Diver, Nice Skua, Gey Heron, Greylag Goose, Guillemot, Hen Harrier, Herring Gull, Kestrel, Kittiwake, Little Egret, Little Gull (actually?), Mallard, Magpie, Manx Shearwater, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Pink-footed Goose, Puffin, Purple Kite, Roseate Tern, Sandwich Tern, Sparrowhawk, Tawny Owl, Tufted Duck, White-fronted Goose, White-tailed Eagle, Whooper Swan, Wooden Pigeon.

So, twice as many species concerned, already, in 2022 as 2021, and 5 occasions as many species on a time-for-time comparability.

Some examples; Gannets, raptors and Pheasants:

Gannets: in 2021 I can’t spot any data of Gannets testing constructive for fowl flu wherever within the UK (you take a look – I may need missed one as a result of my eyes glaze over a bit trying down the listing).

In distinction, the primary constructive Gannet report in 2022 was in early Might (week 19), in Moray.  Since then, to date, there have been data of Gannets, constructive for fowl flu, in weeks, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36 and (final week) 37.  These data usually come from inside nesting colonies, and the seashores close to them, within the early data, however a way more widespread and persevering with distribution of data as much as the current time. Many individuals are seeing contemporary Gannet corpses on their native seashores in, say, Suffolk, in numbers not seen earlier than, and much away from breeding colonies.  And when dying Gannets are being discovered inland, and in cities too, that is an unprecedented state of affairs.  It additionally means that Gannets, and maybe different species, are travelling fairly lengthy distances earlier than succumbing to fowl flu, or maybe are choosing it up removed from breeding colonies.

The UK has internationally necessary Gannet populations, on a worldwide scale.

Raptors:  in 2021 there have been fairly a couple of data of birds of prey which examined constructive for fowl flu.  That doesn’t inform us very a lot – birds of prey are massive and fascinating, the wording of which species to report has all the time talked about birds of prey, and a few of these birds could be satellite-tagged due to ongoing analysis tasks (and so someone is keeping track of them and their our bodies may be discovered).

The species concerned in 2021 have been: Buzzard, Purple Kite, Peregrine, Kestrel and a single White-tailed Eagle (in Highland). Essentially the most generally reported species was, not surprisingly, Buzzard, in weeks 2, 5, 45, 46, 48, 49, 50, 51 and 52

In 2022 there are way more data and so they contain: Buzzard, Purple Kite, Peregrine, Kestrel, Hen Harrier (2), Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, White-tailed Eagle (5; in Highland (2), Isle of Wight, New Forest and Argyll and Bute) and Golden Eagle (2; Highland and Western Isles). Essentially the most generally reported species in 2022 is, not surprisingly, nonetheless Buzzard, however in weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 32, and (final week) 37 to date.

That two of the White-tailed Eagles are from the realm of the southern England reintroduction mission is notable.


The Pheasant is an fascinating fowl. It’s a non-native species which is launched in very massive numbers for leisure capturing every year.  After I say ‘very massive numbers’ I imply tens of tens of millions, though lately, and particularly this 12 months, due to a mixture of Brexit, covid, a Wild Justice authorized problem and fowl flu (fowl flu has affected imports of Pheasant eggs and chicks from continental Europe) the numbers will probably be tens of millions, presumably low tens of tens of millions, so many fewer than normal.

Within the just lately launched (final day of August) mitigation technique from DEFRA and the Welsh authorities (see right here), the authorities determined to not restrict, in any method, releases of gamebirds into the countryside regardless of the elevated numbers of instances of fowl flu in wild birds.

In 2021, the 4 constructive data of fowl flu in free-living Pheasants have been merely as follows; week 15 Staffordshire; week 43, Wrexham; week 45, Richmondshire; week 50, South Lakeland.

In 2022, to date (as much as and together with week 37) there have been three data, all up to now three weeks since DEFRA/Wales issued their technique: week 35, Cornwall; week 35, Norfolk; week 37, Cheshire East.

There are studies, and I’ve seen dialogue about them privately, that the Norfolk instances concerned a whole bunch of Pheasants close to the RSPB Strumpshaw nature reserve. There’s nothing, you’ll be able to see, within the official figures that even hints at this.

Allow us to see how this unfolds over the subsequent few weeks however the blindness of DEFRA to the danger of huge scale gamebird releases was fairly apparent however ignored by them.





Notice: there could also be a couple of errors (of counting) and omissions in a few of these figures. The net variations should not simple to summarise, requiring because it does, eyeballing massive tables. Added to which, the nomenclature is inconsistent. Even downloading the .csv information doesn’t absolutely clear up this problem – you attempt it and see!  I’m glad for errors to be identified – however I don’t suppose they are going to be severe ones.





Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments