Tuesday, 1 December 2015

farmland bird survey

Bad news keeps a'comin' for our farmland birds.

Down go the numbers of just about every conceivable small farmland bird.

So, we're delighted to be a small help to our local farmers who encourage farmland birds in a number of ways.
Howard Broughton's lovely photo of a tree sparrow

Our neighbours Hammond Produce site seed hoppers around the farm as part of the innovatory Notts Wildlife Trust (NWT) 'Farmland B&B' scheme. These hoppers provide food through the challenging winter months and especially through what is termed 'the hungry gap' after Christmas and before food sources begin to replenish themselves in the spring. This is the time when our small birds are at their most vulnerable facing the icy winter and lack of food. Supplementary feeding is vital if the birds are to reach spring in good physical condition for breeding. We check and fill the NWT supplied feeders with seed provided by Hammonds.

Hammonds also site nesting boxes for our fast declining tree sparrow population. Tree sparrows (Passer montanus) are quixotic little creatures. They have a habit of building up a successful breeding colony over several years only to desert the breeding site without any obvious explanation. Nest box schemes such as the ones supported by Hammonds can have a real impact on breeding success. Our job is to check on the condition of nest boxes and report on how many were successfully used in the breeding season.

stuck in the mud
Additionally, there are areas of the farm sown with plants that provide bird seed.
We get the great privilege of seeing and recording flocks of farmland birds circling and feeding in the fields.

Our first visit gave us close up views of linnets, chaffinches, yellowhammers, greenfinches, goldfinches and bramblings.

I also managed to achieve the 'wally of the day' award by getting our old Ford Focus so stuck in the mud that only a tow from gamekeeper Ian prevented us being there till spring. Oh, how we laughed.

Great work Hammonds - especially Bill Hammond who is passionate about all these initiatives. 

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