Our thanks to Brian, Roger and Dave from SLBW (South Leicester Bird Watchers) for visiting today to monitor the nest boxes here at Rectory Farm and ready them for the next season. We have a number of next boxes in locations around the farm to provide nesting habitat for our songbirds, as well as managing hedgerows and crops to provide nesting habitats for the farmland birds here such as grey partridge and lapwings. In the 1980’s Phil planted our spinneys in each block of arable land to provide additional habitat for the birds. He choose locations which were environmentally bland, and the spinneys have been a great addition to the farm providing nesting, breeding and feeding habitats for birds, insects and wildlife. These spinneys are now well established, and over the past 15 years SLBW have joined us to monitor the bird populations within them. We always encourage visitors to the farm, and the nest box monitoring with LROS is just one of the many wildlife projects we have here.
This year we were so pleased to find tree sparrow, great and blue tit nests in the spinney over the hill from the farm adjacent to the Eyebrook Reservoir. As you can see from the photos these beautiful nests are a wonder of nature. They are packed with a range of nesting material from twigs and grasses, leaves and moss, moving to beautifully soft sheep’s wool and feathers as a final liner. Looking at these cosy nests makes you realise just how much work goes into creating them, and it demonstrates how important it is to feed the birds to supply them with the energy to successfully do this. The spinneys we have are all located in blocks of arable land with various heights of hedgerow, mixed crops, grass margins, wild flowers and water to ensure attractive environments for the birds to breed and feed. We supplementary feed the song and farmland birds in our spinneys which has had a great effect of increasing species and numbers of birds. The tree sparrow mix in particular is a favourite in the spinneys.
We are particularly pleased to have the Tree Sparrows at the farm, these birds are smaller than a house sparrow and more active, with its tail often cocked. They have a chestnut brown head and nape (rather than grey) and white cheeks and collar with a contrasting black cheek spot. The tree sparrow is shyer than the house sparrow and are rarely associated with people, they are a rare sight in the garden, tending to feed out in the wild. The tree sparrow is on the RSBP ‘red list’, this list for birds keeps track of how different species are doing, and any birds that are rated red are in need of urgent action. The good news is that recent Breeding Bird Survey data is encouraging, suggesting that numbers of Tree Sparrows have started to increase, we hope to see many more of them at Rectory Farm for years to come!