Town and city bird roosts

Recently I’ve been very busy with school work and a couple of other things but that hasn’t stopped me from getting out and about. One wildlife spectacular that I have been observing in my local city centre is a pied wagtail roost. In Lichfield city centre, as it gets dark, all the nearby pied wagtails group together to form a roost for the night.

Not only does this happen in my city centre or with pied wagtails but they take place everywhere and with other bird species too, like starlings. They are really worth looking out for as they are fantastic to watch. The noise they make when they’re settling down is incredible. If you watch all the individual birds closely you’ll see how they’re all trying to get their own spot, then settle down for the cold night ahead.

There are many reasons why they gather in our towns and cities like this. For example by roosting here they are less vulnerable to predators and in rural areas temperatures can be several degrees above those in the open countryside. This can be a difference between life or death to a small bird in the winter.

You’re most likely to see these roosts in the trees right outside the shops. So next time you’re in town at night or just as it’s getting dark during the cold months look up at the tress and you’ll be in for a real treat!

Here’s a video I got of the pied wagtail roost in Lichfield city centre.

City gathering.

For the last few years, during the winter months, I have observed and watched a pied wagtail roost in my city centre. This year though I decided that I wanted to film them as they’re so fascinating and lovely to watch. So I headed down to Lichfield city centre at about 3:00. First of all I got a few shots around the shopping precinct then I got ready for the pied wagtails to start turning up.

At 3:56 the first few arrived and were calling from the shop roof tops. This continued for the next 20 minutes until there were big flocks sitting on the roof tops. This was great to watch and the sound was amazing but it got better, as suddenly all the birds fled and were nowhere to be seen then a sparrowhawk flew above my head. Unfortunately I was too slow to film it. It was great how everyone was getting on with their shopping and just above them one of natures dramas was unfolding.

Once everything had calmed down the birds returned and started collecting in one of the trees. This was at about 4.30 when it was almost dark. The noise got louder and louder and more birds started turning up. As I looked closely at what every bird was doing it was very interesting. Some were preening, some were fighting for a place and others were just arriving. As the noise got louder more people started to notice and look up.

By about 5:00 everything had calmed down. Here’s the video I got.

Hen Harrier Day 2014.

Today, 10th August, is Hen Harrier Day. It is organised by a coalition of Birders Against Wildlife Crime, former RSPB Conservation Director and leading activist Mark Avery, broadcaster and conservationist Chris Packham, the country’s leading wildlife charity the RSPB, and the North West Raptor Protection Group.

Just a few hundred years ago Hen Harriers were a widespread and common bird of prey. Now, in 2014 only three have bred. In 2013 the last remaining Hen Harriers didn’t manage to raise one chick and who knows what will happen to the chicks of this year.

Hen Harriers have been illegally shot since driven shooting first became popular by Queen Victoria in the 1800’s. Grouse shooting takes place between the 12th of August and the 10th of December each year and moors are managed year-round in preparation for this. Species like red grouse are entirely dependent on heather for food and shelter. Unlike pheasants they can not bred in captivity. Instead gamekeepers are employed to manage the habitat by burning patches of heather to create a mosaic of old strands for nesting and young plants for the birds to eat. They also carry out illegal and legal activity and intense control of generalist predators such as foxes, crows, stoats, weasels and birds of prey like our endangered Hen Harriers.

Last year I was out walking with my Granddad near where I live in Staffordshire in a horrible downpour. All of a sudden a large grey bird flew over our heads, at first I thought it may have been a seagull because of the noise it was making but it was much bigger. When I got home I discovered that it was in fact a male hen harrier. The next day I went back to the place where I had seen it and I returned quite a few times after that too. On a couple of occasions I managed to see the bird again but it was from a distance. However I still felt, and still do now, extremely privileged to have seen the bird as I may not ever see one ever again. Here’s a reason why you should get involved and help our Hen Harriers.

To help and get involved you can follow either one of these links for more information, to sign the petition against driven grouse shooting and much more. http://www.raptorsalive.co.uk/    http://birdersagainst.org/projects/hen-harrier-day/

henharrierA male hen harrier – taken by Pete Walkden. You can see more of his bird of prey, including hen harrier, images here – http://www.petewalkden.co.uk/PreyGallery.html

 

Extracurricular : Bird rescuing.

Today, as normal, I walked out from school but today I noticed a small bird had been blown into the road with cars all around. I attempted to run out and get the small bird with the help of another student. Once it had been taken out from the road it was left underneath a tree. I didn’t want to leave the bird because it was only young, there are a lot of corvids in the area, it couldn’t fly and there was no sight of a parent, nest or anywhere that the nest could of been. After about an hour of me and my friend waiting and watching I rung a local wildlife rescue who told me to take it to them. We managed to get it into a box without stressing it out anymore and it to the rescue. The lady at the rescue said he/she should be fine which was great to hear!

Here are some photos of the young goldfinch.

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