News archive

March 2016

Monday, 28 March 2016

Then there were four !

Then there were four !

Our family now have their four eggs and very shortly will be sitting on them all the time to incubate them.Well done guys right on time .

The camera is live and available from the blog or home page of

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Tagging technology reveals the secret life of Hen Harriers

Tagging technology reveals the secret life of Hen Harriers

An RSPB project has used satellite-tagging technology to reveal new roost sites on Salisbury Plain for Hen Harrier, England's most threatened bird of prey.

Last summer, the RSPB fitted a satellite tag to a Hen Harrierchick, as part of the Life+ Project to conserve the species. The male bird, known as Nile, was tracked to Ministry of Defence land on Salisbury Plain, where it remained for a few weeks last autumn before migrating to mainland Europe for the winter.

With Salisbury Plain having long been established as an important wintering and roosting site for Hen Harrier, the MoD's Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) - responsible for managing and maintaining the MoD's land and properties - has been working with its tenants for many years to implement management measures at known roost sites to improve conditions for the species.

Now, thanks to the information captured from Nile's satellite tag, together with records from the Wiltshire Ornithological Society, new Hen Harrier roosting and foraging areas on MoD land at Salisbury Plain have been revealed. This has enabled the DIO to implement further measures to make their land even more suitable for the raptors.

Hen Harriers breed in the uplands but spend winter foraging and roosting in lowland areas such as Salisbury Plain. Scientists estimate there is enough suitable breeding habitat in the English uplands for more than 300 pairs to breed but last year there were only six successful nests in the whole country. Studies attribute the critically low number of breeding Hen Harriers to ongoing illegal persecution. Earlier this year, the government committed to reversing the fortunes of the bird with the publication of the Hen Harrier Action Plan.

Bea Ayling, manager of the LIFE+ Project, said: "We are fitting satellite tags to as many Hen Harrier chicks as possible, so we can see where they go and find out [in] which areas they're getting into trouble. It's great news that the data we've captured from Nile's tag has been used to help implement more practical management measures that will help achieve a secure and sustainable future for Hen Harriers."

Paul Castle, Chairman of Wiltshire Ornithological Society, said: "I have been co-ordinating Hen Harrier roost counts on behalf of the MOD Conservation Groups on Salisbury Plain for the past 30 years, and the arrival of a satellite-tagged Hen Harrier presented a rare opportunity to map the foraging and roosting sites, especially within the Special Protection Area which was designated for [the species]."

Lisa Wade, DIO ecologist, said "The Ministry of Defence is committed to supporting the conservation of priority species across the defence estate. We've worked closely with Wiltshire Ornithological Society for many years to identify and manage Hen Harrier roost sites on Salisbury Plain and the satellite tag data has provided evidence that this management is working. It's a great example of how MOD and other organisations can work together to benefit conservation."

Read about the latest advances in tracking and tagging technology in April's Birdwatch, on sale on Thursday 24 March.

Thursday, 17 March 2016



Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Countryfile this Sunday

Countryfile this Sunday

Last week the BBC Countryfile Team came to Pulborough Brooks filming woodpeckers for their programme

Julianne , the site Manager and Anna ( Visitor Experience Manager) spent most of the day with them and in the afternoon they took footage of some of our reserve volunteers doing some tree popping (clearing areas of saplings with a fascinating tool which lifts the tree with most of the roots out of the ground ) Roger Parsons , Reserve volunteer was interviewed too and gave a very good account

The programme is due to be shown on Sunday 20th March (6.45pm) so don't forget to make a note to watch the programme

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Eight million birds killed illegally every year at 20 eastern Mediterranean locations

Eight million birds killed illegally every year at 20 eastern Mediterranean locations

BirdLife International scientists have estimated that just 20 locations in the eastern Mediterranean may be responsible for eight million individual birds being illegally killed or taken alive each year.

In the paper 'Preliminary assessment of the scope and scale of illegal killing and taking of birds in the Mediterranean' published this week in the scientific journal Bird Conservation International, the authors present a detailed analysis of how many individual birds and which species are impacted, where the 20 worst locations are and why different species are targeted in each country.

"We were shocked to discover that 25 million individuals of over 450 species are estimated to be illegally killed or taken alive in the Mediterranean region per year, mainly for food (eaten as a delicacy or sold for profit), sport and for use as cage birds or hunting decoys," Dr Anne-Laure Brochet, lead author of the report, said. "Importantly, eight million birds are estimated to be killed or taken at just 20 locations. Given the uncertainty around these numbers because of the difficulty in documenting illegal activities, the total could be anywhere from five to 11 million."

These 20 worst locations are found in just four countries: Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria. They include the Famagusta area of Cyprus, where 400,000-1 million individual birds are illegally killed or taken each year, and the El Manzala area of Egypt, where 30,000-1.1 million individuals birds are illegally killed or taken each year. Trapping and killing is also prevalent in Greece, and Birdwatch is raising funds to tackle this problem by entering a team in this year's Champions of the Flyway competition in Israel.

The highest estimates of birds illegally killed or taken in the Mediterranean region were for Italy (3-8 million birds), Egypt (300,000-11 million) and Syria (3-5 million), while the density of illegal killing or taking was highest in Malta (18-667 birds per year per sq km), Cyprus (146-351 birds per sq km) and Lebanon (161-335 birds per sq km).

"It was disturbing to find that despite the positive impact of EU legislation, half of the top 10 countries with the highest levels of illegal killing are Member States of the EU. This indicates the need for greater effort to ensure that the EU Birds Directive is fully implemented at national level," said Willem Van den Bossche, co-author of the paper and Flyway Conservation Officer for Europe and Central Asia at BirdLife Europe.

The species affected by illegal killing include Blackcap (1.2-2.4 million individuals per year), European Turtle Dove (300,000-900,000 individuals per year) and Song Thrush (700,000-1.8 million individuals per year), along with many others.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Tern Island Update

Tern Island Update

As March moves onwards the clearing work out on Tern Island has finished for the this winter. Over the last four projects over 50 volunteer and staff days have been achieved to clear about 95% of the Island ready for the Shorebird breeding season. Over the next couple of weeks the electric fencing will be erected and then we will wait for the arrival of the Terns in fact the first Sandwich Tern has already been reported in the Harbour. I would like to thank everyone involved for such a successful outcome and watch this space for further news of the up and coming season.