Evidence of the need for a network of conservation fields


Two fields with winter bird crops planted out by Steven Baudains from J&S Growers near Les Landes, are, at the end of February, still filling up with birds that are probably now coming from other conservation sites on the Island, where the fields have already been ploughed. Since January the numbers of birds in the Les Landes fields have increased from average flock counts of around 100 birds to 400-600 birds. Most of the birds are chaffinches, with many linnets and reed buntings, goldfinches, greenfinches, and even the odd brambling. There are also lots of meadow pipits and stock doves, and raptors such as sparrowhawks, marsh harriers and even a common buzzard, an uncommon sight in the north-west, keeping an eye on them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd just to confirm our suspicion that the birds are flocking in from other areas in Jersey no longer suitable, we ‘re-trapped’ a reed bunting caught first in the reedbeds at St Ouen’s Pond, where the buntings roost up for the night. This male bunting was re-trapped earlier this winter in conservation fields with bird-crops immediately behind the Pond, where good numbers of reed buntings have been counted this winter.

The most interesting bit is that, as those fields by the pond were ploughed during the first week of February, this bird and probably others have found their way to the fields at Les Landes, which is where it was re-trapped again on the 15th of February.

So much information carried by such a tiny thing! A great example too of the valuable data that can be gathered through ringing birds like this bunting. The bunting further shows the importance of having a network of conservation fields that can support the birds in this ‘hungry gap’ when many of the fields that they have needed to survive begin to get ploughed up.

Thanks again to the many farmers involved in this project for planting out all those fields. Without this effort birds like this reed bunting and the brambling would have gone hungry this winter.