Continual Monitoring of Bird-Friendly habitats on Farmland

Stewardship Margins – Oi, get off my land goes the cry! (unless of course, you are granted permission as a somewhat fortunate Bird Surveyor)

 

Hopefully, my header informs you as to the blog content of this briefest of posts. Having said that, I reveal something at the end that will no doubt surprise some folk reading this.

 

It’s approaching that time of year when I complete my final analyses and conclusions from my various Bird Survey undertakings. So, below I bring a brief assessment from my latest site visit, from just this past week. The actual figures reproduced below merely provide a snapshot of a broader picture from said landholdings.

One of the primary skillsets that strengthen the confidence levels of any birder or moreover, a bird surveyor is his ability to detect individual species by sight and by ear. Such a skill is not readily acquired but even then can be practised and perfected by anyone willing to take the time and effort. Let’s move on now to some fact reporting courtesy of what my eyes and ears taught me.

 

  • The 17th October site visit brought about a day list of species seen or heard of 35 including probables. Visit four of four at this site during this season.
  • Of the 35 species detected, just over a third are listed as Red or Amber-listed on the present Birds Of Conservation Concern
  • A collective bird tally estimated some 250 (when rounded up) individuals, this total excluded any corvids, pigeons, gulls and gamebirds present on the landholdings.
  • Regarding the figure mentioned above, the total number of individuals witnessed currently residing on the threatened species list was some 60 percent (i.e. approximately 150 individuals overall). What a beautiful total concerning species of conservation priority!
  • Approximately half of the above total were represented by just two species (the Linnet and the Skylark) – More on these below.

 

The above as stated previously only represents a snapshot of the broader aspects of what these landholdings offer the birds at this time of the season as it is merely one visit of just over four hours in duration. Only last year, did I count 63 species in another section of this same large-scale farming game-rearing enterprise. This total came about from having undertaken eight surveys over the course of the year.

Another view of another conservation margin. Margins might be tight when it comes to most businesses, but these things work wonders for our birds and other wildlife

 

Finally, some personal conservation evidence for anyone looking to boost their Linnet and Skylark numbers on their farmsteads or other landholdings.

 

Linnet

These red-listed birds eat mainly small to medium sized seeds, although it is unclear as to what their young are raised on. BWPi also implies they probably take fewer invertebrates than any other west Palearctic finch apart from Crossbills. Access to a succession of available arable weed seeds throughout the year will go some way to help sustain this songbird on your landholdings. Waste grounds and areas of rank growth are immensely valuable to Linnets, as once again, chemical inputs will limit their feeding opportunities.

 

Skylark

The Red-listed Skylark is a much-studied species. Despite this, its current declining status is often overlooked as where such birds exist; they do so in seemingly large numbers.  Suitable cropping regimes alongside the provision of various conservation field margins could be suggested as beneficial to this species and they also likely play a vital role at the chick-rearing stage. The downside is that chick-rearing often coincides with the need for in-field activities such as harvesting or crop-spraying. Give a Skylark six or seven weeks between your various in-crop farming activities and they might just be able to raise a brood or two in any given season. Skylarks are also helped by leaving small bare areas of ground and short sward patches for feeding in, along with longer grass for nesting. Such birds alongside numerous others also incorporate grass into their nest building activities, so maybe leave some lying around for them. If feasible, a quick mowing of these grassy patches in say, April, could be recommended as a way to boost songbird’s nesting productivity in general.

A typically Autumnal scene somewhere out there in the green and pleasant lands of the United Kingdom.

As ever, I thank my readers for taking the time to listen to my rambles; you can, of course, continue to access my Facebook updates by clicking on the Red Admiral butterfly icon below.

naturestimeline Education services – “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”

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PS! For those left wondering what the surprise element to my findings was, well I’ll repeat it below.

The estate in question is a “large-scale farming game-rearing enterprise” in part, although this only represents part of its overall income. Whatever one’s thoughts on the shooting industry or even the role of larger farming enterprises versus small-scale farming, this estate certainly has its conservation measures working wonders. Our countryside matters, birds matter and farming for conservation matters most for all.

Maintaining diversity in the countryside. Guest blog by Tony Powell

Courtesy of a fellow LinkedIn connection, Ben Eagle, I would like to highlight a recent guest post I made on his blog at thinkingcountry dot com
It’s entitled “Maintaining diversity in the countryside”.

Ben’s blog is well worth subscribing to, in my opinion, as he covers a great many topics relating to farming, wildlife and conservation matters. After all, he was also one of my original Conservation “Young Guns” to look out for in 2016.

thinkingcountry

Here is another guest post written in the light of Brexit (and in this case, the recent State of Nature report as well). Tony Powell is a wildlife surveyor (principally birds) and researcher and runs the naturestimeline website. He has previously volunteered for many organisations including the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, The Woodland Trust, the British Trust for Ornithology, The Wildlife Trusts, Butterfly Conservation and currently volunteers for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. In his article Tony reminds us how the farming community has a huge role to play in achieving positive conservation results in the countryside.

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Partridge and Pheasant rear and release sites are very much part of the UK landscape. Collectively, these enterprises have planted tens of thousands of acres of woodland over many decades. Woodland, when managed in such a way, boosts the productivity of woodland ground-nesting bird species alongside that of the shoot. Often…

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