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Woodcock Wood: Nuthatches

Woodcock Wood: Nuthatches

by Chris Saunders ~ 30 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Nuthatches are one of our real favourites. We’ve had them nesting in a box in our walnut tree at home for several years. They are colourful, noisy and bold birds, full of character, with a bit of a mean streak. They will keep the sparrows and tits under control at a feeder, and even a mated pair don’t tolerate each other too well where food is concerned.

They are able to climb headfirst down a tree, a feat not managed even by the Treecreeper. This agility is evident from an early age. We’ve had the privilege of watching young grow with a nest box camera, and they climb around inside of the box well before their feathers are fully developed. Read more...

Bird by Bird - about the threats to wild birds

Bird by Bird – about the threats to wild birds

by Angus ~ 17 May, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Jayne Ivimey and Julia Blackburn have put together an amazing exhibition that makes grown ups cry.  It describes the plight of wild birds in the face of human activities from oil spills and pesticides to loss of habitat from climate change.  The official RED LIST is the list of seriously endangered species and the number of birds on it has recently grown from 36 to 70, so that extinctions now seem almost inevitable for some with humans as the perpetrators.  But this is more than just a lament: it is also a celebration of what the authors call the "miracle of the gift of flight" and the magic of birdsong.   Woodland birds play an important role in the roster of the 70 birds that Jayne has recreated in clay. Read more...

Woodcock Wood's Buzzards

Woodcock Wood’s Buzzards

by Chris Saunders ~ 15 February, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Well, not ours exactly …. but during the spring and summer it’s rare for us not to see and hear the buzzards. In Woodcock Wood they fly above our backdrop of Corsican pine and make forays across the chestnut coppice, occasionally perching in the tall oaks. With open fields behind the pines, this makes the perfect habitat for this beautiful bird.

We are lucky that Woodcock Wood is a small but central part of their territory. We see them most often in spring when the pair renew their vows in noisy and beautifully aerobatic courtship displays. It’s usually their calls that attract our attention, and then it is a privilege to watch their mastery of flight in these displays. Read more...

Air pollution and sparrows

Air pollution and sparrows

by Chris ~ 15 November, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Air pollution is a major concern in many of our cities across the U.K., and indeed through Europe.   Indeed, it is thought to be responsible for a significant number of premature / early deaths.   The European Environment Agency (EEA) has estimated that air pollution is causing around 467,000 premature deaths in Europe every year.   The main culprits are particulates and nitrogen oxides (NOx) - mainly derived from the engines of cars, vans, lorries but also boilers etc.

Now research at the University of Madrid has shown that air pollution is affecting bird populations.   Dr. Herrera-Duenas and her co-workers collected hundreds of blood samples from sparrows in rural, sub-urban and urban areas.   The house sparrow has been strongly associated with human habitation but can live in urban or rural settings. Read more...

Seeds - the means of dispersal

Seeds – the means of dispersal

by Chris ~ 19 October, 2018 ~ one comment

In general, as plants are fixed in place, they have a bit of a problem when it comes to reproduction. That is, exchanging genetic material with one another and then ensuring that their offspring can establish themselves away from the parents so that they are not in direct competition.   Some plants have solved this by using the wind to move pollen and/or seeds (anemochory), some use water (hydrochory) and many others have entered into associations’ with animals.   

The list of animals providing ‘assistance’ is quite varied.  In the case of pollen, transfer is achieved by beetles, bees, bumblebees, hoverflies, hummingbirds, fruit bats, moths etc.  The dispersal of seeds by animals is known as zoochory.   Read more...

Owls and Boxes - Part 2

Owls and Boxes – Part 2

by Chris Saunders ~ 5 September, 2018 ~ comments welcome

It was disappointing not to have a resident owl in the newly installed nest box, but at least we had enjoyed the trail camera shots of an owl exploring a potential site.   In mid-March we blocked the hole, having expelled a squirrel family on several occasions. By this time of the year tawny owls will have chosen their nest site, and be well into their courtship cycle. Perhaps something will persuade them to use the nest box next year. Read more...

Owls and Boxes - Part 1.

Owls and Boxes – Part 1.

by Chris Saunders ~ 2 July, 2018 ~ comments welcome

What is it about the owl that is so endearing and compelling – its eyes, its face, its silent mastery of flight, or the web of myths and stories that surrounds its nocturnal life? For sure, nothing can beat staying over in a wood and hearing tawny owls, and even better knowing they count your wood as part of their territory.

When we were getting to know our wood 18 months ago we heard tawny owls, usually some distance away, and the thought struck that a nest box might bring them nearer, and give us the chance of a view. There was the choice of making one from several designs from the internet, or buying a ready made one. We decided on buying from the Barn Owl Trust. Read more...

Woodland bird monitoring

Woodland bird monitoring

by Chris Colley ~ 27 June, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Each of our team members looks after a number of woodland sites across the UK, and recently we were contacted regarding one of our latest additions to the Woodlands.co.uk portfolio, Coed Craig-y-Pandy, aka Pandy Wood, near Llangollen in North Wales, by someone known locally as Nicky ‘the bird lady’.  Apparently this site has been part of a long term scheme of monitoring nesting birds and nest boxes, and we were being asked permission for this to continue.

Myself (Chris) and local area manager Jon went to meet Nicky one afternoon to find out more of what she does and how it benefits our local birdlife.  We were given a tour of the nest boxes in the woodland – most of which were empty as the young birds had already fledged -  but we were treated to a look inside a couple of boxes where the chicks were still being fed.  Nicky explained that the birds we were looking at were close to fledging themselves, and that she would be back to check the boxes again to see what happened. Below are some photos of the baby birds we saw.

Nicky also showed us that she had ringed the birds in the nests, Read more...

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