The Romney Marshes are a very important area for farmland birds, owing to the presence of key species like grey partridges, corn buntings, turtle doves, tree sparrows, yellow wagtails and lapwings. In addition, there are populations of other red-listed species including skylarks, yellowhammers and linnets.
The Romney Marsh Farmland Bird Project offers free advice to farmers across the Marshes to encourage them to provide these farmland birds with their three basic ecological requirements, the 'Big Three':
- Safe, in-field nesting habitat
- Insect-rich habitat to feed chicks in summer
- Seed-rich habitat for food over winter.
Incorporating these habitats across the farm will also benefit other wildlife including brown hares, bumblebees and wildflowers.
We have a particular interest in tree sparrows in the area, because Romney Marshes and the surrounding area are through to be the last-known breeding colony(s) found on farmland in the South East. Exact population figures and breeding areas are not fully known, so we're gathering data on their distribution.
We'd like to capitalise on the success of winter feeding and nestboxes at RSPB Dungeness by setting up feeding stations and nestboxes across the Marsh where tree sparrows are present.