Wildlife Enquiries

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Wildlife Enquiries

'Good morning, Wildlife Enquiries...' We take hundreds of calls and e-mails every day. Find out what everyone's asking this week
  • Whose plumage?

    Here in wildlife enquiries we occasionally get sent some rather interesting finds including pictures of unsual garden visitors, feathers and occasionally dead birds. We are more than happy to take a look at feathers and pictures but we are not too keen on the dead birds, they don't travel well in the post and rarely arrive in one piece and make for a pretty unpleasant surprise first thing in the morning!!! So if you come across something that has died and you want to know more about it, get in touch first before popping the unfortunate critter in the post!

    I thought i'd share with you all some pictures I took of something that was sent into us recently that might be of interest, have a look below and see if you can guess what species of bird this plumage belongs to?

    Here is the wing with some of the feathers removed for illustrative purposes, as Rolf Harris would say, 'can you tell what it is yet?'

  • Time for some nest box maintenance!

    Apart from the odd storm, this summer has been brilliant for our wildlife and has enabled us to get outside and enjoy watching everything that’s going on around us. I’ve been watching some butterflies, moths, bats, hedgehogs and a variety of birds in my garden, including recently some families of Goldfinch. Earlier on this year, Blue Tits successfully raised a brood of chicks in my new nest box.

    It’s always a good idea to give your nest boxes a clear out once a year, and it’s also interesting to take a look inside at the nest. Cleaning the box ensures that nothing untoward is lurking in there over the winter months to infest the new nest in the spring the following year. You can sometimes get parasites and insects that will lie in wait for an unsuspecting brood of chicks, reducing their chances of survival.

    Take the box down and open it up. If there is a nest in there you can dispose of it as you see fit, but it’s a good idea to put it in your compost bin. Any dead chicks can also be put in the compost bin and so can any unfertilised eggs, but legally, the eggs should be destroyed. Brush out any loose material, and pour boiling water throughout the box, but take care not to splash yourself with the hot water. Allow it to dry completely before putting the box back together and back in place for another year. We sometimes hear of people that only put their nest boxes up in the spring and summer, but if you leave the box up all year round it can give the birds a safe place to roost in over the winter months. You also stand a better chance of the box being used in the spring.

    Blue Tit nest from this year - Deb Depledge

    You don’t need to put any nesting material into the box, but if you want to you can put some hay or sawdust in the bottom of the box, but not straw as it can harbour mold. You may find in the spring that you see birds taking this material out of the box, but that’s okay as it means they may be nesting soon and are just having a clear out, or they may just be using the material as the base for their new nest. If birds do show an interest in the box, resist the urge to take a peek as it may put them off. Birds can check out a few potential nest sites before they choose the one they like, so they may start taking nesting material into the box and then give up. Hopefully, that won’t happen and they will make full use of your nest box and raise their young successfully.

    You can put nest boxes up at any time of the year, so you don’t need to wait for the spring. If you put boxes up that have different size access holes, you may have more than one species of bird nesting in your garden. Don’t forget your open fronted boxes too, which are excellent for Robins and Wrens and can be cleaned out in the same way.

    Give the birds in your garden a winter roosting site and check out the nest boxes on our website. There is also a link to a page which explains the best place to put up your box and give it the best chance of being used.

    http://shopping.rspb.org.uk/birds-wildlife/nestboxes/garden-bird-nestboxes.html

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/nestboxes/smallbirds/siting.aspx

     

  • New Wildlife Advisers!

    Hi! We are the new Wildlife Advisers, Dannie and Louise, this week we joined the Wildlife Enquiries Team at HQ as seasonal workers, getting ready for the busy and exciting spring/ summer period. Below is a little bit about our first week on the job!

    Dannie:

    Hello! My first day started off with a tour of our headquarters, the offices, library, and of course tea making facilities (an essential stop on the first day!). During my tour I learnt what activities my new role will entail and the types of queries I may receive, which seem to cover all manner of things wildlife related! I am looking forward to spending my day answering the phone, e-mails and letters on the wide variety of issue that my new team covers. From anything from how to manage land for wildlife, issues with renewable energy, bird diseases and bird identification, it sounds like I will definitely be kept on my toes and I can’t wait to get stuck in!

    The Lodge is a wonderful reserve to work on. I have been taking lunch-time walks through a variety of trails and have seen a number of exciting birds already, including a green woodpecker, mistle thrush and some flirtatious blue tits. Though there is so much to learn, we have a great team around us who will help us find all the information that we need.

    Louise:

    Hey! So, as I’m sure you can imagine people contact us with queries about a vast range of subjects, some controversial and others more light-hearted including bird ID’s or where the best pub is in relation to the Reserve. So the first three days involved getting to grips with, and trying to digest, the substantial amount of information required to answer all of these areas.

    Late on day three saw me receiving my first phone call.....by mistake! Was there anything this lady could do to stop the Ravens fighting her resident Crows? Unfortunately not, she would just have to watch them battle it out. Although nervous, I am not too worried about starting to answer the phone calls as I know the Team here will get me through the difficult or tricky questions. I’m just not looking forward to the first irate caller.....keep calm I guess. My highlight of the week was when I received an email with a photograph of a 3 year old boy dressed as a Kingfisher for World Book Day at his school. Thomas the Tank Engine, Batman or a pirate were suggestions from his mum but no ‘I want to be a kingfisher, like in mummy’s book’!!

    We have had a good first week, learning the ropes of this challenging and ever evolving job, and we look forward to keeping you updates with our progress.