Tuesday 1 May 2012

Breeding Counts and Crows

Hopefully, if you are reading this latest posting it will mean that a way has been found to get round the problems I've been having with trying to create new posts on my blog, although there are still some technicalities to be resolved.

Anyway, last weekend's awful weather has certainly gone some way to resolving the drought that we've been suffering, if only temporarily and visually. Yesterday, the reserve was bathed in warm sunshine and looked quite stunning with a combination of dark green, grazing meadows, rills now full of water and even splashes of surface water laying across some of the meadows. The surface splashes have however created one problem in a few places, they have flooded into a few Lapwings nests, causing the eggs to become chilled and almost certainly ruined as they sat in it for a long period. This has added to the disappointment of last Friday's second Lapwing breeding survey on the reserve, which added no additional breeding pairs to the total found in the first count. This means that at c. 26 pairs so far, we are still some two thirds lower than last year's final total. There are several more surveys to do and possibly more birds could still nest, but it's not looking very good.

On a similar theme, Coots, a bird that should be a regular and common bird on the reserve, have also gone into decline this last few years. This winter, no doubt due to the low water levels, we even  recorded no birds on the reserve throughout the winter months, something I can't recall happening before. In respect of breeding pairs, as recent as 2007 we recorded 46 pairs on the reserve but that has not been achieved since and this year we have only around 10 pairs breeding. So far, as you can see in the photo, out of three nests that I have found with eggs, two have had all the eggs removed and eaten by crows, something that we cannot afford to have happen and if you consider the effect that such similar predation will have had on the diminishing number of Lapwing nests,  its no wonder that we pursue a vigorous campaign against the crow population on the reserve.
Just this morning as I walked across the reserve I found what must have been almost a whole clutch of freshly pecked open duck's eggs laying on the track I was walking, the damage that the crows inflict on breeding populations on the marsh is relentless at times and in my opinion, not defendable.

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