Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Monarch – not a butterfly or an airline but a consortium of conservation bodies calling themselves ‘Modelling Natural Resource Responses to Climate Change’. They have just published their final report from a seven-year programme. This final phase concerned modelling the potential for detailed changes in the ranges of 32 BAP species.

Using various models, and setting global change as ‘the’ dominant factor to change, they ran various scenarios under high and low greenhouse gas emissions to project future potential climate space at 50km resolution. That is, how will the climate change in any 50km plot within Britain.

The resulting maps DO NOT attempt to simulate the future change of species, but only to show where the climate will be able to support such species, should they move under the influence of global change plus /minus other contributory factors.

Stone Curlew, Corn Bunting and Turtle Dove were projected to all gain substantial climate space with no significant loss – i.e. have the potential to expand their range.

Skylark, Common Scoter, Black Grouse, Capercaillie and Song Thrush would all lose potential climate space with no significant gains – the possibility of range contraction; and Tree Sparrow and Linnet modelled no losses or gains.

MONARCH output is generated as a ‘broad signpost’ to help develop policies for nature conservation in a changing climate. To predict a scenario and modify plans on the group accordingly. For example – the climate may be predicted to help a certain species expand, but that species will not do so unless the supporting habitat is provided as well. Thus conservation organisations can plan their land management to help support the expansion of these species if so desired.

The full report will eventually be made available for free at: www.ukcip.org.uk (registration is required but access is free).

Monday, May 21, 2007

In the Glyn

Another day checking the boxes on Sunday – it takes me six hours just to walk around the site so, once you actually start ringing chicks it becomes a long day.
Left: Blue Tits

Ringed another 43 Great Tit pulli, missing one brood of five because they were already too big, and then 72 Blue Tit. Also ‘lifted’ two adult female Great Tit, one Blue Tit, and 5 female Pied Flycatchers. Had my first two broods of Pied Flycatchers hatching so, from that point of view, a good day.

All was not sweetness and light however. The Redstart’s nest had been predated, as had one each of Blue and Great Tit. There were two broods of Great Tit where both had died in-situ. Possibly one, or both, of the parents had been taken by predators.

Left: Pied Flycatchers

On the plus side one of the previous Pied Flycatchers nests have ‘evolved’ into a Redstarts and another box, not checked for 2 weeks, also now had Redstarts in with six eggs.

On another front the Ravens have now fledged – 4 young – two broods of Great Spotted Woodpecker were found, the Pied Wagtails are nesting in amongst the straw bales in the barn – as is a Wren, and the swallows are too high up in the roof to do anything about. There’s also another pair of Redstarts on site – nesting somewhere in a natural cavity – but I haven’t had time to track them down yet; maybe that will come next week if they are feeding young.

Redstarts nest.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Seabird Monitoring Programme

Received the summary today. Throughout the UK breeding seabirds – of which we host 7M of 25 species - were slightly more successful in 2006 than they were in either 2004 or 05.

Guillemots suffered from widespread poor breeding success, with those in the Northern Isles faring slightly better. Fulmars in SE Scotland were still relatively unsuccessful, although better than previous years and kittiwake numbers reached a new low, in contrast to shag numbers which started to rise after the unexplained mortality event of 2005.

These four species are used as monitors as they represent about half of all breeding seabirds and each represents a unique feeding niche. Fulmars feed on near the surface, kittiwakes feed on small fish and sandeels, and guillemots and shags are diving species exploiting a wider range of fish.

The current 2005 report can be found at: www.jncc.gov.uk/page-3804 - the full report for 2006 will be published in the autumn and the new Seabird Monitoring Programme website can be found at: www.jncc.gov.uk/smp

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

WMBD 2007

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is a global initiative devoted to celebrating the beauty of migrating birds and for promoting their conservation worldwide. This year WMBD will take place on the weekend of 12-13 May and its central theme will be "Migratory birds in a changing climate".

World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) is a day for young and old - adults and children around the world will celebrate the fascination of bird migration. To support the events aiming at children and to help them understand more about migratory birds in a changing climate, the WMBD website includes a special section for children. It features Gordon the Goose and Charlene Chick: they explain in four languages (English, Spanish, French, German) how climate change comes about and how it affects migratory birds. The big drawing competition encourages children to express their thoughts on the topic.

So get the children /grandchildren painting.


Monday, May 07, 2007

What a difference a week makes!

Another day checking the boxes in glorious weather and proceedings have definitely moved on apace – with clutches increasing and the first young appearing.

With Great Tit, fifteen boxes have eggs (total 96) with adults incubating, with a further five clutches being incubated with egg number unknown (one doesn’t lift Great Tits because of their high tendency to desert (30%)). Five nests had young (minimum 31), the oldest of which were at about three days (photo). Some pairs were still building so more may be arriving later.

Blue Tit, nine nests with eggs – 56 eggs – but only one with young, hatching today (photo). A further four boxes have adults incubating on an unknown number of eggs.

Also there are another ten ‘tit’ clutches, of at least 51 eggs, where the species responsible have yet to be identified.

The Pied Flycatcher are about with a vengeance with one pair building from nothing to laying their first egg with seven days. In all there are fourteen Pied Flycatcher nests with eggs (40 eggs, max 6 minimum 1), with another 14 nests still being built.

One box contains confirmed Redstarts (photo) with four eggs. Redstart nests are very similar to Pied Flycatchers nests except that Redstarts tend to make use of feathers whereas Pied Flys do not – so some of the labelled Pied Flys nests may turn out to belong to Redstarts (if I’m lucky). In addition one ‘woodpeckered’ box contains a brood of five young Robins – (max seven days old but likely to be 4-5, photo); and the nestbox taken over by Nuthatches does not appear to have gone any further in build compared to last week.

Finally, also discovered a ground-based Robins nest – flushing the adult while I was making my way to one of the boxes. A quick search revealed a nest of five eggs – a nice find.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New President for CPRE

CPRE = Council for the Protection of Rural England.

I would like to think this is a good thing. It takes someone from the outside to indicate to those of us on the inside - the residents of England in general - just what they /we have that is worth preserving.

Bill Bryson, an American who lives in Norfolk, has told the BBC: "You're extremely lucky to have such beautiful countryside in this country. One of the glories of Britain is the British landscape".
"Almost everybody who lives in this country loves to go out into the countryside and just be there and walk around in it and enjoy the views and enjoy all that greenery and fresh air, and it's really important that this generation does all it can to preserve that."

He gets my vote.