Wildlife Update December 2017


Trustee & bird expert Dr Gareth Thomas has been connected with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for many years. This is his monthly bulletin describing what he has seen on his regular visits to Barton.

December: the Yule month

This is the last of my observations at Barton Glebe. The month was largely cold and wet. The trees all seemed to be in Winter repose and there was little floral activity anywhere. About 50 fieldfares and some 30 redwings fed in the hawthorn bushes as did up to 12 blackbirds, all concentrating on stripping the haw berries. Small numbers of finches included up to 15 goldfinches,3 chaffinches, 8 linnets and 8 greenfinches,  an uncommon visitor in the Glebes. The regular kestrel spent time vole hunting in both glebes. A few reflections over the past 12 months:

  • The woodlands, first planted some 17 years ago are still incredibly young. Astonishingly all 15 or so species of trees are already producing berries or seeds. The height attained by some of the quicker growing willows and silver birches has been substantial.
  • The grasslands must have quickly developed small rodent populations especially field voles. They and young rabbits probably provide abundances of food to an increasing number of visiting birds of prey. Over the year we recorded buzzard, kestrel, red kite and the small bird feeding sparrow hawk.
  • The list of resident mammals keeps growing. We have recorded fox, badger, brown hare, stoat, rabbit, muntjac and the most recent colonist this year, grey squirrel. We have yet to record any moles but they would be welcome colonists if they so choose.
  • The blue haze of chicory in the north glebe throughout the summer and autumn was a truly amazing sight. Elsewhere in the Glebes, there were eye-catching splashes of monthly colours – yellows, reds, whites, purples depending on which species was in flower.
  • The explosion of bird song between March and June was phenomenal as the birds were in their breeding seasons. The most noticeable (noisiest!) songsters were blackbirds, song thrushes, wrens, skylarks, robins and chaffinches and the summer migrants, chiffchaffs, willow warblers and whitethroats.
  • New species of birds spotted were red kite and an improbable woodcock. Birds which are notably increasing in number include bullfinch, robin, blackbird, willow warbler and whitethroat. Greatest numbers recorded were flocks of 200 wood pigeons, 120 goldfinches and 80 fieldfares.   

I still have not recorded a house sparrow at Barton Glebe!!  Next year?