27 March 2020

A huge thank you to my good friend Mark Meadows of Mark Meadows Joinery, Pontypool for donating numerous pieces of ply to my project. Obviously with the restrictions on movement at the moment due to the pandemic im not making much at the moment. I will be finishing off a few orders I have to fulfill but im not sure when I can get these delivered. 

Just a reminder I shall be doing a live feed video on how to build a nest box for your garden via my project nest box facebook page. 

 

 https://www.facebook.com/projectnestbox

20 March 2020

The song thrush used to be a very common bird in the UK. In fact, in the early 20th century it was more abundant than the blackbird. However, since the 1940s, blackbirds have flourished, making them a more familiar bird these days.

Between 1970 and 2010, the UK song thrush population declined by 54 per cent. It is thought that one of the causes could be the increased mortality of young song thrushes, especially in the first few months after they fledge.

This may be due to the reduced availability of snails and earthworms, particularly in gardens and farmland where pesticides are used. Other causes suggested for the overall decline include changes to farming practices, land drainage and woodland management.

Sedentary birds?

In most of the country, song thrushes remain in the same area unless there is a severe winter and they need to move to find food. However some birds from Scotland and northern England are partially migratory, spending the winter in Ireland or on mainland Europe. Also, those birds that do stay in England will be joined by continental birds.

Paler, grey thrushes from Scandinavia pass through in the spring and autumn, and some birds from Belgium and the Netherlands overwinter here, in the south of Britain.

Different races

Our song thrushes are quite different to those found across the rest of Europe. Those birds found over most of Britain and Ireland belong to a distinct race, known as clarkei, as opposed to those found on mainland Europe which are philomelos.

However, on the Outer Hebrides and Isle of Skye, there’s a third race, hebridensis. As you move northwest across the range, the birds become progressively darker with stronger markings. 

Countryside sound 

There are many reasons that people love song thrushes, but its song has made it a well-known part of the countryside. While the song is less rich than that of a blackbird, its bold, bell-like clarity has a penetrating quality. It consists of a series of phrases with many repeated three times in succession, making it a recognisable song.

So when I am monitoring my nest box sites I always look out for natural nests of any species of bird. Each year the Blackbird wins hands down. I have worried about the lack of Song Thrush

nests and unfortunately last year I failed to find one. So 2020 and guess what nest I found on my first search for 2020. Yes indeed it was a Song Thrush. So here is some info on the Song Thrush.

14 March 2020

Fingers crossed this major drop in temperature and change in wind direction doesnt affect our migrant birds too much. Millions and millions are on their migratory pattern as I type and it is a bit of a worry when we get Northerly or worse North Easterly winds during this critical time.
My Pied Flycatcher numbers took a huge hit back in 2018 due to the Beast from the east. I only had 16 Pied Flycatcher pairs return for the 2018 season which was down 10 pairs on the 2017 season of 26 pairs. I and many other Ornithologists around the UK get drawn to daily weather forecast this time of year because of potential migrational problems. I'm looking to better last seasons record of 36 pairs successfully breeding and raising a clutch. Fingers crossed.

10 March 2020

Busy day today with my friend Nigel William's. We managed to erect a internal Barn Owl nest box in another local Barn and a few miles from my village.
Back to the workshop and we managed to build another external Barn Owl box and ready to fit when the fields dry up, well hopefully they dry up.

5 March 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird populations that make the great journey between northern Europe and Africa – including the nightingale and turtle dove – are drastically declining, conservationists have warned.

Nearly half of the 29 summer migrants, who appear in the UK in spring to breed before returning in the autumn, show long-term population declines.

The nightingale, famed for its song and for inspiring English poets, is one of a group of birds that spend winter in the African humid zone of Sierra Leone, Senegal, the Gambia and Burkina Faso that are suffering particularly badly.

Of this group of 11 humid zone species, eight are declining in number.

Other migrants that spend winter in Africa, such as cuckoos, whinchats and spotted flycatchers, are being found in the UK at half the number they were two decades ago.

The birds face pressures in the UK, on their journey between continents and in Africa too, the annual State of the UK’s Birds report by the RSPB and seven other nature organisations shows. It is the first time the report has grouped the health of birds by their migration strategies.

In the UK, birds have lost habitat to farmland and housing. Nightingales and other species are under threat from rising deer numbers, as the deer browse on young woodland.

On their epic journeys across the Mediterranean, many birds are also shot and caught in nets – an estimated two to four million turtle doves are killed in southern European countries each year, contributing to the 95% decline in turtle dove populations since 1970.

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Malta, a hotspot for illegal bird hunting, became the focus of a campaign by birders including BBC broadcaster Chris Packham in May, and the recent nomination of a member of the Maltese government as the EU’s new environment commissioner sparked fresh controversy over the country’s wildlife crime record.

In Africa, the report’s authors say birds are losing habitat as forests are cleared for fuel and to make way for farming, and wetland ecosystems are being drained and dammed.

“In the humid zone, we know there is large scale environmental change occurring, due to human requirements for growing food. There is a lot of change, particularly on irrigation for crops. Lots of habitats are being changed or degraded

Fingers crossed this major drop in temperature and change in wind direction does not affect our migrant birds too much. Millions and millions are on their migratory pattern as I type and it is a bit of a worry when we get Northerly or worse North Easterly winds during this critical time.
My Pied Flycatcher numbers took a huge hit back in 2018 due to the Beast from the east. I only had 16 Pied Flycatcher pairs return for the 2018 season which was down 10 pairs on the 2017 season of 26 pairs. I and many other Ornithologists around the UK get drawn to daily weather forecast this time of year because of potential migratory problems. I'm looking to better last seasons record of 36 pairs successfully breeding and raising a clutch. Fingers crossed.

3 March 2020

Recently I have been extremely lucky and managed to get access to a well known land owners estate. This particular Land owner owns huge pieces of land and as far away as the Scottish Highlands. My interest is local to me and I have to say I am extremely excited how this will play out. Very kindly I have been given access to half a dozen barns which are all unused and some have signs of Barn Owls present and roosting in.

So I have been adding more internal Barn Owl nest boxes to my collection. By internal I mean non waterproof due to them being inside the barn as opposed to a tree. These are all made out of OS board or sterling board to some. No need to waterproof these boxes for obvious reasons so thankfully they dont take that long to build. Whilst checking one one of the barns I noticed a reasonably fresh Owl pellet sitting on one of the beams. I picked up the pellet with the intentions of showing school children on one of my school visits. As you can see in the image below you can just about the bones of a rodent probably a vole.

1 March 2020

I was asked by one of our local BTO officers if I could cut out the shapes for 200 tit boxes. Obviously I did agree because it was extra funds for my project. So a local saw mill delivered a huge load of larch to my address and I got cracking. It took me nearly 3 whole days to cut out 200 nest boxes with a 32mm entrance hole. These nest boxes are destined for a local Tree Sparrow project.