Wednesday, 1 July 2009


Well done once again to everyone involved with the Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group aka YACWAG. I was carrying out the annual monitoring of their boxes, Barn Owl and Kestrels. The management of the reserves is taken straight out of the Chris Sperring manuscript of how it should be done, indeed my early 90s work at Portbury was part of the inspiration for their success now. And boy what success, as we walked across the fields towards the boxes,
Butterflies of differing species such as Large and Small Skipper, Ringlet, Meadow Browns and of course my favourite the Marbled White were all at times in such large numbers its was quite breadth taking. The bird species list is endless check out their website to see for yourself.
The first Barn Owl box had an amazing five Barn Owlets, interestingly these were younger than the second nest which only had three, this has been a pattern this year in that if the Owls bred early the number of young is low, those that started later have more owlets. If you remember its exactly what I was saying earlier in the spring. It means we had suppressed grass growth leading to later breeding in the Short-tailed Vole which is their main prey item across these open grassland areas. But what to me was good was that one small reserve had 2 pairs of Kestrels both of which had young on the wing. This species has shown some quite big declines in the U.K, but here at least not only was the young production good but also from 2 pairs in very close proximity to each other. The Short tailed Voles here are having a bumper year. Now I have heard other's state that "this is a bad year for Voles" yet so far all my own Vole study plot areas show really good Vole numbers as did YACWAG's Kestrel and Barn Owl results. Just goes to prove you can't have a national up and down of Voles it does not happen. YACWAG is a very small local based independent wildlife charity. Yet what it does is up on a scale as great as any of the national NGO's, it buys up bits of local land and turns it into a wildlife paradise, it also proves that these tiny islands in the area, can produce maximum bio-diversity. YACWAG involves its local members of the public, they in turn make a major difference for the environment that surrounds them. Its all so simple yet what I have seen it makes such a huge impact for little fuss or money.
My regards to everyone involved with YACWAG and thanks for a great day out on the reserves, and for making such great habitat for real bio-diversity and not just a select few on a priority list, well done folks your the best!

All this reminds me of another organisation of doers, small yet very effective. The Hawk and Owl Trust springs to mind!

YACWAG volunteers including Trever Riddle and leader Tony Moulin
Count the Owls!

Close up of a YACWAG Babe

Three Older babes from the second nest of YACWAG

Kestrel recently fledged from the box

Ringlet Butterfly on YACWAG reserve


faith said...

Fabulous Chris. Brought tears to my eyes! We have done well, but we owe you the debt of gratitude for pointing us in the right direction and giving us informed and enthusiastic support for ten years. Thanks, Faith

Chris Sperring said...

Thanks Faith, comments like yours are worthy of placing on the CV.
Don't forget to mention to Tony to look out for second broods with your barn owls this year, anything is possible!