Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Habitat Habitat Habitat.

Today I have been to Wiltshire to look at and survey an estate that just a few years ago was an arable desert, the emphases here is trees, however as can be seen in the first picture, there is plenty of open area, which does have some amazing rough grassland margins. I did this same survey a year ago, and today was gobsmacked by the number of Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting, Skylark. As you have probably noticed I really like Yellowhammer, they seem to me so wrapped up in the fact that some experts like to pigeon hole them into only being able to do or live in certain circumstances, yet here they are again, now operating across real rough and wild vegetation. As with the Hammers I found in the forests during the Forestry Commission Long-eared Owl Project, they are in the open yet seemingly doing even better than 1 year ago in the new growth of tree's. Mentioning experts, I was told only this weekend that Yellowhammers will only breed in the hedge and not out in the young tree belt. Sorry this is wrong. In fact as with the FC project here at today's location they were taking insect prey back to their nests which were not only in the hedges but also right out in the new tree growth areas, and breeding very close to the ground level. The moral of this story is that after almost 40 years of doing Natural History I would never surrender to that word EXPERT, because the beauty and excitement of natural history is that every time you go out you are going to learn something new!
If you think you know it all then its time to give up!

Yellowhammer what a bird

As you can see I can't get enough of Hammers. I'm told by my friends in the RSPB that if I was introduced to Cirl Buntings I would feel the same about them. OK Its over to you RSPB introduce me. Today's survey was brilliant for Birds and also large numbers of the more common Butterflies. Like Large and Small Skipper, Marbled White (my favourite),Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Large and Small White, Small Copper, even recorded 3 Brimstones obviously part of a second hatch, along with Peacock, Red Admiral Comma and Gatekeeper. Nothing perhaps very special in these species, although I did spend time looking for Wall Butterfly as it was the most perfect habitat for it however I found no Walls today. The point about the common butterflies is not that they were there, more so that they were in such huge number Peacock Butterfly

Comma Butterfly

A Bumblebee on Spearhead Thistle
Habitat is the key to all and when we consider our great struggle in wild conservation movement to preseve what is bio-diversity then perhaps we need go back to basics and really look careful at what the more common species need, and for goodness sake stop over complicating all of the issues.
Next up on this blog, Barn Owl Nest checking and this years re habbed Owls.


Gaina said...

Wow, those little 'hammers really are stunning! :D

We have a pair of Bullfinches in the garden at the moment, which excites me no end! Dad got some new food supposedly for Blue Tits but they love it...'Typical' says Dad 'They would like something that's six quid a bloody bag!' haha.

Of course more little birds means we're getting visits from the Sparrowhawk, who my Dad wants to chase away from 'his' birds.

**sigh** Walt Disney has a lot to answer for! LOL

Chris Sperring said...

Hi Gaina.

Thanks for the comments. Let me know if your Bullfinches are still around, if so I will turn up with camera and hide if they are. If thats OK.

Gill B said...

I've seen Cirl Buntings, they are lovely little birds but no more so than Yellowhammers, just rarer and far less adaptable by the sound of it!

Mary Colwell said...

Just so true Chris - we fiddle about so much and make it so difficult. My son is learning the Rubik's cube at the moment. Everytime he tries to fix one bit and twists and turns, everything else gets more complicated! Perhaps we need to be a little less controlling and assume nature knows best.

batty persona said...


Feeding birds really helps their survival and breeding success. Haith's are an on-line retailer who do a good range at not unreasonable prices.

Gill feeds all year and the number to fledglings in our garden is quite noticeable.

However more rough grass land is needed! In these straightened times - a campaign for councils to stop cutting their huge areas of grass might do more for songbird numbers than any other single measure.

David B

Cherry Barlow said...

Lovely photos of Peacock Butterfly & Comma & a really amazing shot of Bumble Bee & Hover fly - The Y.Hammer looks almost too exotic to be here in the UK - wonderful bird to see & hear,their stronghold in N.Dorset is around the Bishops Caundle area.Keep up the good work Chris & why not do a survey in Dorset next time ?

Gaina said...

Chris. I'll keep an eye on the feeders and let you know, you're more than welcome to bring yours camera's over. You might be quite surprised how close you can get to our birds, as they are so used to us coming and going (I can easily sit right under one of my feeders and the bluetits totally ignore me).

David B Yes we enjoy watching the whole process from nest building right through to seeing the fledgelings. Dad keeps strips of the front garden wild and untidy so the birds and other small creatures have plenty of places to forage and shelter :).
Thanks for the name of those shops.