Week 4 – Wild Birds

As you may already know, this weekend is the RSPBs Big Garden Birdwatch, where homes up and down the country will be spending an hour counting what species of birds visit their gardens and in what numbers.  At 9 and a half acres, we are too big to be classed as a garden but we will still be out in Marshmouth Reserve on Saturday recording what is around.
At this time of year it is essential to get food out for your garden visitors as food is scarce to come by, particularly with all the white stuff around.  In the reserve we have 4 seperate feeding stations and we have been busy keeping them topped up with wild bird seed, niger seed, peanuts, black sunflower seed and left overs from some of the aviary birds.
Last year we recorded over 60 species of native birds and we are already well on the way to beat that figure.  Marshmouth holds a lot of the common garden species such as Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Blue & Great Tit, although strangely House Sparrows have not been seen on site for a number of years, a nationwide trend with numbers dropping drastically.
This year we have had far more sightings already of Nuthatch and Lesser Redpoll, previously pretty uncommon.  Siskin & Marsh Tit have also been noted as has a male Blackcap.  Hopefully we may see some even rarer sights to match the stunning Hawfinch that dropped on to one of the bird tables a couple of winters ago.
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Long range record shot of Nuthatch
The keepers will be out near The Lodge on Saturday from 12.30-1.30 armed with binoculars, bird guides and lots of info on wild birds should you wish to join them.
In other news, the snow hit Thursday night/Friday morning as it did all around the county.  Luckily we were well prepared and had moved some of the birds whose aviaries were at risk.  It seems strange to move Snowy Owls because of snow but as mentioned in last weeks blog, any weight of snow on netted aviaries can be disasterous.  They have moved into the middle of the park temporarily and the Lilac Breasted Rollers have been moved off show.
The snow meant that Penguin Awareness Day was a bit of a white/wipe out.  We had a great time tweeting and facebooking lots of penguin facts and 3 people won penguin feeds so congrats to them.
sam 5633 2 - Week 4 - Wild BirdsHappy penguins in the snow
The Southern Ground Hornbill male arrived from Marwell and looks stunning, he has a couple more days of quarantine before we introduce him to our female
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The tree surgeons are back in this week and are working by the Desert House.  3 trees are being felled and there is a slight concern of damage to the glass roofed house.  As a result all the birds have been moved off show temporarily but should be back out for the weekend.
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Protective sheeting going up over the Desert House
Whilst the birds have been moved it gives us a good chance to give them a health check as for a lot of the birds from the Desert House are very small and very fast.  We check weight, feet & feather condition, claw length and take the opportunity to worm the birds and re-ring anyone missing a leg band (we’ll try and get some pictures for next week).
Next week we will continue to tidy up post flood/snow/tree surgeons.  Meanwhile keep checking our Facebook/Twitter for any news

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