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What we do
Image: Steve Round
Across the UK the yellowhammer population has fallen by 54% between 1970 and 1998, whilst here in Wales, they have declined by about 40% since 1994, thought to be due, in part at least, to there being less seed- and grain-rich habitats around in winter.
Through the Bird Conservation Targeting Project, the estuary valleys of the Dyfi, Dysynni and Mawddach have been identified as one of the key areas in Wales for these little yellow birds.
If we can work within key areas such as these to provide habitat for yellowhammers, we stand a chance of preventing further decline within these areas, helping them increase their population locally and so possibly recolonise other areas of Wales.
One of the next steps is to produce a map of the entire area showing where suitable yellowhammer habitat exists, and to map unsuitable habitat such as forestry.
This will help to plan where we can manage habitat to provide enough winter food to help halt the decline of the yellowhammer locally.
Work first began on the Dyfi as part of the Aren’t Welsh Birds Brilliant! (AWBB) Project five years ago with just two farmers involved.
Following the end of AWBB in 2006, and the beginning of the yellowhammer project, more interest has been generated so that now, seven farmers are now working in partnership with the RSPB to provide habitat for yellowhammer by growing wild bird cover.
Training, advice and support have also been provided to SNPA and agri-environment scheme project officers, so that five landowners in the Dysynni valley work with SNPA to provide seed rich habitat for yellowhammer.
Agri-environment scheme officers encourage farmers within the area, in schemes such as Tir Gofal, to uptake options into their farm plan that benefit yellowhammer, such as growing unsprayed spring sown cereals followed by winter stubble to provide winter food, or appropriate hedge management to provide good nesting habitat.
Lesley FletcherConservation Officer, AdvisoryE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org