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Volunteer survey results in fantastic news for birds and farmers in the Central Chilterns

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Thank you to all of our farmer cluster members, who gave their time and support to this important initiative, and for showing such enthusiasm for all of our initiatives so far.

Thanks to the fantastic support of a number of bird surveyors, Hughenden Ringing Group and BORG, we have managed to:

  • Complete 17 winter farm bird surveys as part of the GWCT Big Farmland Bird Count
  • Set up and deliver the first year of a long term farmland bird ringing study
  • Install 42 nest boxes for Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Little Owl and Kestrel
     

The volunteer effort has been fantastic and made a huge difference to our work in supporting the farmers. It has also generated a significant amount of new records which, in conjunction with last years surveys, are starting to build a real picture of the bird distribution across the farmland in the patch.

 

BORG working hard across our farmer cluster

Standout highlights are the numbers of Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting the area supports. Across the farms 6 had Yellowhammer counts of over 40 with one as high as 85! 4 farms held Corn Bunting for the second winter with the Hughenden Ringing Group ringing 19 birds on one of the sites. Not content with that, we also had some great individual records; the standout one being a passage Stone Curlew but supported by records of Peregrine, Raven, Linnet, Marsh Tit and Barn Owl. The mid February survey window coincided with a run of seemingly endless named storms that undoubtedly resulted in lower counts than previously.

The Hughenden Ringing Group have also been hampered by the windy weather since January but despite this have established an important long term study of the health of our farmland birds (in particular our Buntings). They have also taken this a step further by having a proposal to set up a Corn Bunting colour ringing project approved by the BTO. This has been helped also by the 9.5 tonnes of supplementary bird feed put out by the 18 farmers all winter providing an important additional food source.

 

Yellowhammer and Corn-bunting (Hughenden Ringing Group working hard!)

Likewise the wet weather hampered BORG’s ability to get out and install Owl boxes later on in the winter but not before they managed to really pull out the stops to make and then install 42 boxes on 12 of the farms. Many more than we originally planned. Fingers crossed the boxes have a good uptake this spring and hopefully current restrictions may be lifted in time to do some late season monitoring.

Another 500 records have been submitted to BMERC and the Bucks County Recorder on the back of this. In addition to 340 ringing records and hopefully additional breeding records of Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Little Owl and Kestrel. A great example of volunteers working hand in glove with farmers and an even better example of finding important bird records from underwatched sites.

A huge thank you again to all of the volunteers who have helped make this happen. 

Same time, same place next year …….

-Nick Marriner

Visit the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs project page to learn more about our 18 interweaving projects aimed at transforming people's connection to the Central Chilterns landscape. 

To learn more about our farmer cluster, you can read our farmer cluster newsletter here.

To get in touch about volunteering opportunities or to find out more, please email our Landowner Engagement Officer, Nick Marriner. 

 

 

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