Spring wildlife report
The rationale behind this report and the survey it refers to is to establish a baseline of data for Gwernybustach to allow any decisions made for the ongoing management of the farm is made from an informed position.
The current plan is to make three visits, one completed in the winter, one just completed in the spring (early May) to target breeding birds and a third in the summer (Late June/July) to target plants. This will give a reasonable cross-section of the key species using the site at the most important times of year.
Results – spring survey
The results for this survey are primarily aimed at breeding birds, but any other wildlife seen during the visit is recorded here.
The following species were recorded on the May survey, the number noted by each species is the number of potential territories noted, this is only an estimate based on behaviour seen.
|Great spotted woodpecker||1|
|Non breeding species||Number seen|
A total of 45 species were recorded on the spring survey, 43 of which were thought to be breeding.
Of the 45 species, 20 were not recorded in the winter survey (those with a hyperlink in the name), this takes the total number of bird species record to date to 54.
Of the 43 species considered to be breeding, nine are red listed, ten are amber listed and the other 24 are green listed. The red listed species are of high conservation concern, the amber listed species are of conservation concern and the green species are currently not considered to be of conservation concern.
I will briefly run through the red and amber listed species noting any particular habitat requirements for these species.
The cuckoo are looking for host species for their young, in this habitat this is most likely to be meadow pipit and dunnock. The meadow pipit seem to nest further up the slopes, whereas the Dunnock will prefer the scrubby areas around the edge of woodlands.
The tree pipit are looking for the woodland edge where the trees thin on the upper edge of the woodlands as the altitude rises, the nest on the ground so require areas of grassland. All birds seen were in the upper meadows of the farm.
Song thrush nest in areas of scrub and bramble so require either edges of woodland, hedgerows or woodland glades where light allows the growth of an understorey.
Wood warbler nest on the ground in woodland glades usually around beech and oak woodland, this particular territory stretches across the river at the bottom of the farm, the bird is perhaps actually nesting across the river.
Marsh tit was covered in detail in the last report, everything said there is still valid, especially as the birds were in the same area as previously.
House sparrow need a hole or two in the brickwork of the buildings, or a gap in the slates to breed. So this should be considered during any renovation, this can be easily mitigated for by erecting nestboxes with 32mm nestholes.
Linnet nest in scrubby areas, these were just above the farm on the slop so a relatively easy species to cater for, ensure some scrub is left in the more open areas.
Lesser redpoll are a bird of the upland woodland fringe, feeding and nesting in the birch that tends to be the first tree species to be established in these habitats. If clearing the woodland edge, please ensure some birch is left.
Yellowhammer breed n hedgerows and this bird was right at the top of the farm where the hedges are between the intensively managed sheep-grazed fields and your own, the birds will undoubtedly be feeding on insects in your fields and nesting in the edges.
Amber listed species not previously covered
Stock dove are hole-nesters and will be fine with the occasional tree in the grassland area.
I’m sure you’ve noticed the swallows nesting in the open buildings, they just need the odd small opening to go in and out.
Redstart are also hole-nesters and with four pairs on the farm there is plenty of suitable habitat in the woodlands and areas with standard oaks.
Whitethroat nest in areas of rank grassland and loose bramble, so as long as there are quiet areas of the farm with low level management in the breeding season they should be fine.
Willow warbler nest on the ground in areas of grass usually either around the woodland edge or where scrub is starting to become established. This is a species that has greatly declined in southern England, so it is pleasing to see they are still doing well here. As long as there is not wide-scale intensive grazing they will be fine.
It was particularly pleasing to pick up two pied flycatcher territories, they again were nesting along the river below the farm, their territories possibly crossing the river, but as hole-nesters they have plenty of habitat in the woodland there.
Male tree pipit
The main plant of note seen during the surveys was toothwort, it was growing below the farm in the woodland next to hazel stands, which it parasitizes from. A species known to be in the area, but certainly worthy of mention.
Due to the relatively late growing season in this area, a visit at the end of June is recommended to survey the grasslands to assess what plant species are present.
The above results show that Gwernybustach has virtually all the breeding species that would have been hoped for in a farm in this area. With sympathetic management going forward there is no reason these species would not continue to flourish.