Hedgerow Visitors

Greenfinch (Courtesy www.english-country-garden.com)

As you may imagine, the conservation of owls & other birds of prey is extremely important to us here at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary. However, we are also equally interested in the welfare of the native songbirds species & throughout the year, Brian Thompson and his band of volunteers from the British Trust for Ornithology regularly visit us here to ring the various species that frequent the Woodland Walk at Stonham Aspal.

Dunnock (Courtesy www.blueskybirds.co.uk)

We have just had the BTO's annual report on the birds ringed here last year, the result of their series of visits during 2008. During the breeding season, Brian rings the pulli (youngsters in the nest) found on the site. Thereafter, birds are periodically caught in ‘mist nets’, which resemble large volleyball nets strung between two poles: used by trained professionals, they are a very efficient way of catching wild birds in flight with very little risk to their safety and well-being. Once caught, the birds are then very carefully removed, weighed, sexed, aged and then ringed before being safely released.

Yellowhammer (Courtesy www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk)

By and large we had more birds from the Tit and Finch families recorded than any other species, but the variety was surprisingly diverse. The list for 2008 included a Woodpigeon, wild Little and Tawny Owls, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wrens, quite a few Dunnocks, Robins, a number of Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Starlings, a House Sparrow, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Yellowhammers.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Courtesy www.birding.in)

In total, there were 171 birds recorded here last year. Not a vast number, but with all the other recordings made across Britain, these statistics help to compile a valuable historical record which helps the BTO see trends in the various species and to assess whether they are increasing or declining in number. Other vital information such as details of breeding, distribution and movement can also be gleaned from the overall statistics.

Back in the here and now, life continues to be busy at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary. The new aviaries are coming on a treat and the re-acclimatisation of the flight display team after a winter of moulting, rest & recuperation goes on… more of all that anon. And just to keep you updated, our poor Tawny Owl from last week is still receiving treatment for its infected foot - hopefully, all will be resolved successfully without undue delay.