February, 2010


We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Wildlife Enquiries

'Good morning, Wildlife Enquiries...' We take hundreds of calls and e-mails every day. Find out what everyone's asking this week
  • Councils cut back more than just their finances

    Councils cut back more than just their finances
    With the end of the financial year looming, local authorities are using remaining funds to do the annual tidy up of local public areas. If birds are nesting in vegetation that causes an immediate road/rail safety hazard, the highways agency or network rail can legally over-ride the legal protection of nests under the WCA 1981/85. However, this does not mean that whole areas can be cleared on such grounds though, which is all too often the case. For further advice and info on the planning system please see the Wildlife Action Packs on the main website.  
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    Robin (under) hood!
    Reports of pigeons and doves nesting in odd places potentially occur at anytime of the year. However, the first signs of spring are now revealing themselves. One lady in Chichester called to report a robin sitting on eggs in her minibus engine! Species such as robins and blue tits are renowned for nesting in unusual places such as boots, kettles and wall mounted ashtrays to name but a few.
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    Swanning around
    Reports are on the increase of adult paired swans turning aggressive either attacking juveniles or other intruders as their territorial drive kicks in. This is usually most prevalent between February – October although they won’t be laying eggs until April time. The size of area they defend depends on local features within the habitat. The main threat display is known as “busking” in which the secondary feathers are raised over their back, neck fluffed and head laid back with neck well arched.

    Chaffinches with white socks?
    Many reports have described chaffinches with white growths or socks on their feet. This is actually a fibrous growth called a papilloma, actually a viral cancer. These tumours may regress; the British Trust of Ornithology has ringed birds with papillomas that were absent again on subsequent recoveries, but in serious cases, death is inevitable. Even in instances where the birds could be caught, any resulting infection from open wounds will usually again, prove fatal. The best advice is to maintain good hygiene around feeders and ensure all feeding areas have no sharp edges.
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  • Winter into spring...or is it?

    Late February is a great time of year to get out and about into the countryside, or garden, and take notice of the big changes occurring. Bulbs are bursting into life, frogs are starting to stir, some ponds already have frogspawn, and birds are definitely distracted by the urge to breed. However it is quite likely that we will be seeing more of the cold weather before spring is properly here.

    Many of our winter visitors like redwings and fieldfares are currently busy feeding up for their long journeys ahead, they return to their breeding ranges across the North sea in the spring. If our countryside does get another covering of snow, expect to see these winter thrushes back in gardens, they may also be joined by finches and other unusual garden visitors such as yellowhammers and reed buntings as they seek shelter and food.

    If you can keep a could supply of fresh water and a mix of food including fruit, seed and fat based treats, you should be able to help see them through it. For our resident breeders, it is likely that they will simply put the brakes on their breeding activities and concentrate on feeding until milder weather returns.

    One species to look out for in the next few weeks, especially along the east coast, is the waxwing. There have been a trickle of reports over the last week and a cold front from the east may push a few more in to the UK this week. Any trees or hedges that still have berries left on them would be well worth checking out.