Monday, October 3, 2022
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 top of July to the start of October, there have been hardly any optimistic circumstances of chook flu in wild birds recorded by the federal government surveillance scheme. In 10 full weeks there have been solely three weeks with optimistic circumstances, although these had been all Nice Skuas, and I assume that we had been all labouring beneath the impression that chook flu was at its summer time 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 optimistic information in wild birds detected by this surveillance scheme by any means.

What a distinction a 12 months makes. We’re presently in week 38 of 2022. In weeks 20-29 of 2022 there have been almost 100 optimistic circumstances reported involving 20+ species – not a single report in 2021.  In weeks 30-37 in 2022, there have already been over 60 optimistic circumstances 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 checks, in response to the general public reporting lifeless birds and never on any designed sampling regime. The official public figures don’t give any indication of what number of birds died from chook flu in that a couple of corpses can be analysed from massive die-offs, and it’s only the variety of corpses giving optimistic outcomes which might be reported, not the variety of birds considered concerned. Unfavorable outcomes are usually not reported, so there is no such thing as a prospect of inspecting the publicly accessible information and getting any, even the vaguest, impression of how widespread the virus is within the species listed.

The phrases you have 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 accessible by APHA, DEFRA and so on.

By analogy, think about that individuals had been falling lifeless within the streets and a few of them had been then examined to see whether or not or not they’d died of a selected illness. The information we’ve for birds are equal to these information for individuals the place just some corpses had been reported, just some reported corpses had been examined, solely the optimistic outcomes had been listed in a desk every week and if 1000’s died at a soccer sport it might solely be the variety of corpses examined that may be reported not the entire variety of our bodies from which that small quantity was taken.

We must always regard the printed circumstances of birds testing optimistic for chook flu as being within the ‘tip of an iceberg’ class – besides, this time final 12 months there was little or no signal of ice anyplace whereas this 12 months we are able to clearly see the iceberg and may solely speculate about how way more ice there may be beneath 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 totally recognized species: Buzzard, Canada Goose, Nice Skua, Knot, Mute Swan, Peregrine, Pheasant, Pink-footed Goose, Pink 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, no less than 50 totally recognized species:  Arctic Tern, Barnacle Goose, Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Buzzard, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Frequent 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, Pink 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 instances as many species on a time-for-time comparability.

Some examples; Gannets, raptors and Pheasants:

Gannets: in 2021 I can’t spot any information of Gannets testing optimistic for chook flu anyplace within the UK (you take a look – I might need missed one as a result of my eyes glaze over a bit trying down the checklist).

In distinction, the primary optimistic Gannet report in 2022 was in early Could (week 19), in Moray.  Since then, to date, there have been information of Gannets, optimistic for chook flu, in weeks, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36 and (final week) 37.  These information usually come from inside nesting colonies, and the seashores close to them, within the early information, however a way more widespread and persevering with distribution of information 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 chook flu, or maybe are choosing it up removed from breeding colonies.

The UK has internationally essential Gannet populations, on a world scale.

Raptors:  in 2021 there have been fairly a couple of information of birds of prey which examined optimistic for chook 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 might be satellite-tagged due to ongoing analysis initiatives (and so anyone is keeping track of them and their our bodies could be discovered).

The species concerned in 2021 had been: Buzzard, Pink Kite, Peregrine, Kestrel and a single White-tailed Eagle (in Highland). Probably 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 information and so they contain: Buzzard, Pink 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). Probably 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 chook. It’s a non-native species which is launched in very massive numbers for leisure capturing annually.  After I say ‘very massive numbers’ I imply tens of thousands and thousands, though lately, and particularly this 12 months, because of a mix of Brexit, covid, a Wild Justice authorized problem and chook flu (chook flu has affected imports of Pheasant eggs and chicks from continental Europe) the numbers can be thousands and thousands, probably low tens of thousands and thousands, so many fewer than traditional.

Within the not too long ago launched (final day of August) mitigation technique from DEFRA and the Welsh authorities (see right here), the authorities determined to not restrict, in any manner, releases of gamebirds into the countryside regardless of the elevated numbers of circumstances of chook flu in wild birds.

In 2021, the 4 optimistic information of chook flu in free-living Pheasants had 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 information, all prior to now three weeks since DEFRA/Wales issued their technique: week 35, Cornwall; week 35, Norfolk; week 37, Cheshire East.

There are stories, and I’ve seen dialogue about them privately, that the Norfolk circumstances concerned a whole bunch of Pheasants close to the RSPB Strumpshaw nature reserve. There may be 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 following few weeks however the blindness of DEFRA to the chance of huge scale gamebird releases was fairly apparent however ignored by them.





Observe: there could also be a couple of errors (of counting) and omissions in a few of these figures. The net variations are usually 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 totally 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.





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