Rise and shine for the Early Bird Survey!

Robin. Photo by Tony Paintin

9th – 12th January 2014

From the BTO.

Winter is not an easy time for birds. They need extra energy to keep warm, especially during long winter nights. To cope with this, they lay down extra fat reserves, though small birds quite often only lay down enough for a single night. Longer nights not only affect the amount of energy a bird uses, they also reduce the amount of time that birds can feed in. Birds, therefore, have to make the most of the daylight hours to replenish their energy reserves before it gets dark.

The 2004 BTO Shortest Day Survey, run in association with BBC Radio 4, investigated the patterns behind birds arriving at garden bird feeders first thing on a winter’s morning. Building on observations from the Shortest Day Survey, the Early Bird Survey will investigate what effect, if any, light and heat pollution have on the feeding patterns of birds during a cold winter’s morning.

Blackcap. Photo by Mick DrydenYour help is needed to work out how light pollution affects the foraging behaviour of garden birds.

The Early Bird Survey will be taking place on Thursday 9th January. It’s a simple survey that requires you to get up before sunrise (which you’ll have noticed is still quite late!), note the birds arriving at your garden feeding station and enter them online.

Once you enter your results, you’ll get immediate feedback about how your garden compares to those of other observers!

If you are free to do it tomorrow, please download the instructions today as we will also be collecting data on artificial light sources and overnight temperatures.

Find out more, including how to take part here.

Can’t do the 9th?
Don’t worry! We know that some people will be busy so we’re happy to accept observations up to (and including) Sunday 12th.

Please contact local bird recorder Tony Paintin if you are interested in further BTO surveys

The Countryside Enhancement Scheme and Birds On The edge

Jersey N Coast, Plemont Autumn 2013

By Christian Marcos

The Countryside Enhancement Scheme (CES) is an environmental improvement scheme open to all Jersey landowners, land managers, businesses, charities, schools, States departments and others. The scheme is funded by the States of Jersey and offers financial incentives that support and reward environmental initiatives through voluntary management agreements designed to look after Jersey’s countryside. This includes enhancement of wildlife, landscapes, historic features and natural resources (soils and water), as well as providing new opportunities for public access.

Last year, the Countryside Enhancement Scheme funded a project to clear large amounts of bracken from publicly administered land on the slopes west and east of Plémont in order to improve the condition and species diversity of these coastal habitats. A total of 17,151m² (9.5 verges or 4.3 acres) of bracken scrub has been cleared on this occasion.

In the past these steep slopes would have been managed by grazing animals, and by harvesting bracken and gorse for animal bedding and fuel respectively, giving opportunity for short, species-rich grassland and wild flowers to flourish. Today the only grazing which takes place is done by rabbits, which unfortunately is not enough to stop the gradual encroachment of gorse scrub and bracken.

The aim is to return the slopes to their former ecologically diverse coastal heathland habitat, encouraging fire-tolerant shrub vegetation such as heathers Calluna vulgaris and Erica cinerea, gorse Ulex gallii and broom Cytisus scoparius.

The project compliments Birds On The Edge objectives in conserving maritime heath, cliff and slope habitats which are listed as valuable key habitats in the Jersey Biodiversity Strategy (2000).

Access to manage the slopes is difficult due to their being so steep and being isolated from any close parking and other infrastructure. It is planned that a number of ‘holes’ be created in the coastal scrub with a more diverse vegetation within. The long term intention is to re-establish grazing to these slopes with the livestock foraging between these holes and ultimately linking them, creating habitat corridors. The first step is to create areas which can be grazed and which will supply a sufficient amount of fodder to sustain the livestock.

The contractor successfully cut the bracken scrub to ground level and then rolled it into piles of mulch at the bottom of the slopes. The team will return to the site in early June (2014) to treat any bracken regrowth with the fern specific herbicide Asulox.