One swallow doesn't make a summer. The arrival of some familiar birds is a sign that spring is here. Sand martins, swallows and chiffchaffs have all been reported returning to the UK to breed. However, we still have a couple of months until the summer starts and a few of the winter migrants such as fieldfares and redwings are still about.
HoopoesSmall numbers of these exotic looking birds reach the UK each spring. They are mainly found in Southern Europe and North Africa. They are about the size of a mistle thrush with a black and white tail and wings and a pinkish body. They also have a long downward-curved beak and a large crest. They are usually seen along the south coast and we have received a few sightings over the past week or so.
Hedge cutting and birds nests. This is one of the most common subjects we are asked about at this time of year. Birds are now starting to nest so any work on hedges and trees should be avoided if possible. If this work has to be carried out now then it is important to check thoroughly for nests and leave alone any that are uncovered.
We would recommend leaving any work on areas where birds might be nesting until September at the earliest. Get information and advice on garden hedges and the law here
Nests in roofsBirds such as starlings and sparrows will regularly nest in roofs so it is equally important to check before any roof maintenance work is carried out. It is illegal to remove nests from rooves once they are active. More information here
DucktalesMallards are now on the lookout for nest sites and this will often take them into gardens. Unfortunately, they don't always choose the most suitable gardens and can get themselves into trouble. Some could choose to nest in enclosed gardens or next to busy roads or even on balconies several stories up. This can be a problem when the flightless ducklings hatch. If you find yourself in this situation there are some tips on our website here
Glazed and Confused (Birds attacking windows)
The onset of spring has also triggered a flurry of activity with our wild birds as they prepare for the imminent start of the breeding season. This has led to many territorial birds seemingly attacking or flying at windows or other reflective surfaces. They can see their own reflection on the surface, and thinking it is an intruding bird will try to attack it to defend its territory. The only way to stop the behaviour is to remove the trigger – the reflection. This means putting something such as cling film or non-reflective cellophane on the outside of the window. Once the reflection has disappeared, this should help the bird in thinking they have won the war and therefore break the cycle of this behaviour.
Glazed and Confused
Red kites and a neighbourhood fight
One Bucks caller wanted to know what should be done about a neighbour who has been feeding Red kites from their back garden. So far the regular afternoon feeds have attracted more than 40 birds that “intimidate all the locals” as they swoop over gardens. Leaving out butchers offcuts mice/rat carcasses is actually legal in the UK, High-risk material such as dead livestock, is not. As well as possibly upsetting some of the neighbours, encouraging red kites to feed may also pose a potential disease risk and attract corvids, rats and mice. In addition, supplementary feeding in this manner may be further slowing the otherwise natural dispersals from their stronghold reintroduction sites.
Gigrin Farm Discussion
Swifts - Out of sight, always in mind?
Despite presently being in much sunnier climes of sub-Saharan Africa, we continue to provide advice and information as to how you can help Swifts by providing nesting provisions for them. The simplest form of nestbox is one that can be placed inside the loft space with just the purpose built entrance hole visible. The entrance need to be no more than 65x30mm. Concrete swift nesting bricks can be incorporated into renovations or new builds and can be rendered to appear the same as surrounding brickwork. Ready made boxes such as these are available from Swift Conservation, Schwelger and Jacobi Jayne.
Swift Houses Discussion
Other sightings on the wildlife radar..
Seemingly a surprise to many have been recent sightings of large numbers of buzzard. Outside of the breeding season large gathering often occur at good feeding sites and taking advantage of thermals. Redpoll and Twite have been noted visiting garden feeders in search of easy meals. Waxwings are still in residence with at least 76 reports yesterday (04/03) along eastern areas but also in Manchester. Common Crane in Warwickshire. Several reports of Great Grey shrikes in Lancs. A lone Black Kite has company with the fellow kites in Gigrin, Wales. Also worthy of note are a few unconfirmed sightings of Osprey in Hampshire, Wilts and Herts.. First
First Signs of Spring?