On Saturday 21 February delegates from all over the country came to Stanny Field Centre to talk about the ecology of the bearded tit. During the morning there was a series of short talks by individuals describing their particular site; Stanny Farm; RSPB Minsmere, RSPB Tayside, Scotland; Farlington Marshes, Portsmouth; North Kent Marshes, National Trust Wicken Fen and Walberswick/Westwood Marshes. This did not include all the areas represented by people at the seminar but it did provide a good cross section
At the end of the morning delegates discussed the feasibility of a new comprehensive survey of the bird’s status in the UK. The afternoon was a series of interactive sessions dealing with; correct management and the bird’s requirements; present and future threats and the direction of further research. The main findings of the day will be written up by Iain Malzer the co-host of the day and a copy will appear on this blog.
The numbers of small birds that are on the farm this winter has increased from the rather poor 2013/2014 winter. The extra feed being put down through the HLS Supplementary Feeding option has certainly attracted and held, probably up to 1500 birds on the farm. The principal bird is probably linnet but many other finches are included in these often spectacular flocks. This morning we ringed over 90 birds including good numbers of chaffinches and reed buntings plus our first Yellowhammer for two years.
There is a small flock of around 20 yellowhammers using the farm at present. Five bramblings were also a high point of the morning.
Up to a dozen people met up at Stanny Field Centre on Saturday 7 February to review the progress of the otter project after four months work. Even at this early date it was possible to see from the spraint analysis that there was a diet change through the winter months. When the project started in August/September the animals were eating mainly crab but as the weeks have gone on this has dropped out of their menu and fish species dominate by February.
The trail cam part of the project is also producing interesting results – there are now four sites on the estuary that have time-coordinated cameras. The number of sites will increase until we have a good coverage of the areas on the estuary that are used by otters.
The direct observation part of the project also produces interesting results and trail cams have now gone in on the same site to see if they can record the same data that is produced by direct observation.Identifying fish and other remains in the spraint samples if difficult! However, assistance from a number of people and organisations has helped our skills!