Watch the Birdie

Willow Tit

Birds are quite amazing creatures and this is certainly the time of year for people who love birds, those adorable little flying dinosaurs singing their hearts out to welcome in the spring.  Alvecote Wood certainly has its share of birds, and they have been much in evidence over the last couple of weeks, with the arrival of chiffchaffs, the calling and drumming of woodpeckers, and the frantic nest-building activities of blue tits, robins and others.

The question we often ask ourselves is whether we have been successful in improving the habitat for birds over the past 3 years.  We can only really answer this with objective surveys, and we complete both BTO BirdTrack and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust breeding bird survey protocols.  Subjectively, though, the answer is clear – if you measure success on the diversity of bird species attracted to the woods, then we have been successful.

Yellowhammer

Another measure of success is whether we are helping to save those species that are red-listed and which have therefore seen a sharp decline in numbers over the past decades.  Some formerly common species, such as house sparrow and starling, are now red-listed, but there are also some less well-known ones that we have been trying to attract.

So have we been successful?  Well…to some extent, yes.  We have certainly got lesser spotted woodpecker calling in the woods.  We have one yellowhammer visiting our seed feeders regularly and another pair of yellowhammer on the far hedge in Betty’s Wood, although the latter is unlikely to be due to our intervention.  We also have a pair of willow tit visiting our feeders regularly.

Blue-tit
Coal tit
Reed bunting

What of the more common birds?  Are we helping them too?  Well, we certainly have a few green woodpecker calling, and several greater spotted woodpecker drumming.  We are providing homes for blue tits, great tits, coal tits, long-tailed tits as well as the willow tit.  We have mallard on our ponds again this year – both in Alvecote Wood and in Betty’s Wood.  There are numerous dunnock, wrens, robins, blackbirds, song-thrushes, nuthatch, treecreeper and goldfinches.  We have reed bunting visiting the feeders as well as inhabiting the area next to the canal.  Pheasant are wandering around in respectable numbers.  Tawny owl pellets show them to be feeding on both small rodents and other birds.  Jays are screeching.  The buzzards and sparrowhawk are in evidence.  Woodpigeon and fieldfares roost in the woods.  Carrion crows and jackdaws too, make a contribution to the cacophany.  Chiffchaff have arrived and we await the willow warblers and blackcap with bated breath.  Skylark are singing in adjacent fields.  Our first breeding bird survey logged 28 species on our transect walk.

Nuthatch

So, overall, we seem to be having some success at Alvecote Wood.  We are hoping that lots of people will come to our birdwatching evening on Tuesday 5th April 6-8pm – the more eyes and pairs of binoculars there are out and about, the more we are likely to find out about something we haven’t spotted yet.  What is so good is that at last we feel that inviting birdwatchers to the wood is worthwhile, that we actually have something for folks to see.  Watch the birdie – yes indeed.  Let’s hope we get more of them, and lots of nice surprises.

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