June is typically our busiest time and this year has been no different! What with Springwatch, crazy weather and some crazy government ideas (yes I am referring to Buzzard-gate!) we've had loads to deal with on top of the normal workload. Here are just a few of the hot topics we've been handling of late:
Cutting hedges and trees: Despite the lack of sun it hasn't stopped lots of issues with vegetation clearance during peak bird breeding season including a couple of high profile incidents here and here. Our advice is to leave this job until later in the year, avoid March to August wherever possible and retain or create habitats for wildlife to mitigate for any lost. There's no harm in lopping off the extra straggly bits that have shot up and might be catching you in the face or scratching your car but leave the hedge trimmers in the shed and chainsaws locked up until the birds have finished their breeding efforts. Further RSPB advice here and some interesting stuff from the Hedgelink campaign here.
Nests in the roof: The queries we have mostly been getting relate to noisy starlings, we try to reassure people that they are not doing any damage up there and the noise is usually confined to the week or so before fledging. The first brood are up and away already and the second will be out later this month or in early July. House sparrows might have a third brood and continue a bit later and swifts should be feeding recently hatched young. Retaining existing nest sites in the roof is one of the best steps you can take for conserving urban birds in trouble which applies to all of these species and also house martins which build their nests under the eaves. You can take this a step further by adding nesting boxes, see our range here. Blocking up or destroying active nests is an offence under the Willdife and Countryside Act 1981, if you see someone doing this please report it to your local police switchboard or dial 101 stating the above law.
Feeding birds: Lots of queries about what can or cannot go out for the birds at this time of year. Our key advice is to keep up the feeding to give parent birds fuel to get them through the breeding season. If you have a family feeding young and the weather is poor, supplying live mealworms in a shallow dish somewhere close to a favoured perching place of the adults may help them raise their young to be fit and strong, if you do use dried mealworms it's worth soaking them a bit first. Sunflower hearts and other seed mixes are fine at this time, avoid feeding loose whole peanuts as they are a choking risk and keep a source of water clean and topped up. Check out our Homes for Wildlife advice on how to create a thriving natural food chain in your garden space.
Intervention or not?: You may have seen the story at the Dyfi osprey nest where the team took the hard decision to save the last surviving osprey chick, this brave step saved this birds life and is thoroughly commendable given the ospreys precarious position in Wales. However, please remember that it is a very different story with fledgling birds in the garden - please leave them alone for their parents to care for. If they are in a dangerous situation you can move them a short distance to a nearby tree or bush so that they can be found by their parents. Some sound advice here from the RSPCA.
Gulls: It's that time again for our favourite rooftop nesters to bring the next generation into the world, leading lots of mayhem in the process. The development and disturbance around the coasts where gulls previously nested has meant that roof tops offer a safer alternative, unless the young decide to wander! If they do end up on the ground before they can fly please be careful as the parents are likely to attack. If young gulls are on the ground please keep pets in and take an umbrella with you when you go outside to put a barrier between you and the protective parents gulls. If you are brave enough and can do it safely, popping the chicks back on to a flat roof may improve the situation. The young gulls will be airbourne between mid July and early August. Some more info' on roof nesting gulls here.
Grahame Madge (rspb-images.com)
Where to watch...: The Springwatch effect always hits us with many people inspired to get out and experience the places featured on the show first hand. Ynys-hir is certainly attracting lots of interest but the feature on Dungeness will surely make people want to go and experience the strange wilderness. Looking for somewhere new to explore, have a look at our reserves webpages.
We'll have another update or feature a bit later in the month!