On Saturday 8th June 2013, the Biodiversity Gardens team met up with bird enthusiast Derek Coleman to survey tree sparrow nest boxes situated in Beddington Farmlands.
With permission from Viridor, who own the site, we entered the private land and shortly arrived at our first row of nest boxes, situated on a fence boundary. The bird boxes have been placed all around the Beddington Farmlands in order to monitor bird populations.
Derek, our guide, who has a fountain of bird knowledge and experience, showed us the correct procedures when monitoring bird boxes. Derek approached the boxes and was vocally loud to scare off any birds that were sheltering inside from the relentless summer heat. Once at the box, he plugged the hole and lifted off the roof to see what was inside. Several boxes contained between six to eight marble sized eggs. After doing our first row of bird boxes, we delved deeper into long nettles and brambles to find another site of bird boxes, much to the despair of biodiversity assistant George Rockell’s legs, regretting his choice to wear shorts!
Once through the nettles, we found the second site of bird boxes. After opening our first bird box, we found three young chicks approximately seven days old. After a quick inspection, Derek noticed two of the chicks had ingested and had became tangled in horse hair. The nest was located right next door to a horse paddock and unfortunately many nests had been made using stray horse hair. It was clear that if the chicks were left in their current condition the chances of survival were slim. The injured chicks were quickly taken to Riverside Animal Centre and were thankfully freed of the coarse, long hair.
Please note it is an offence to disturb any nesting birds. The survey was carried out with a licenced professional as part of a long term study. If you would like to help with monitoring your local bird populations, then get in contact with the BTO or the RSPB (links below).
The project is also involved with running a breeding bird survey in an area of grassland adjacent to the BedZED development in Hackbridge. The first transect found diverse avian population including starlings, whitethroats and sand martins who were exhibiting territorial behaviour. Like us on Facebook to keep updated with our progress or for more information about the bird life at Beddington visit http://beddingtonfarmlands.org.uk/.