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Jan 29, 2015

Smew news

Photo: WWT/PA
Smews do twice as well in protected areas
Global warming/climate change is often a mixture of bad news and good news.   In the case of the Smew (Mergellus albellus), a native of northern Eurasian, north Africa and south Asia, some good news has come to light regarding this duck's presence in northern Europe. It seems to be a combination of climate change and availability of protected areas.   The rare European duck, whose habitat is changing because of global warming, is doing twice as well in conservation areas protected by the European Union.   The dramatic-looking Smew drakes (see photo above) and their female mates are spreading northwards across Europe as temperatures climb.   A wetland data study shows nearly 1/3 of the birds now winter in north-east Europe, compared to just 6% twenty years ago.   In that region, Smew numbers have grown twice as fast in Special Protection Areas created under the EU Birds Directive.   Smews are to be found as far west as Britain where they winter in lowland England, but population numbers are dropping, making the case for protected areas there also.   The appearance of the Smew drake is not extravagant, but it is certainly very striking and least I think so.   Oh to see one in the wild, one day.
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