• BTO Garden Birdwatch Development Officer

    Claire Boothby, BTO’s Garden BirdWatch Development Officer, discusses how feeding birds can aid their survival and influence evolution.

    ©D Waistell

    After the autumn lull, when birds disperse to the wider countryside where there are plentiful natural food supplies, birds flock back to gardens as the weather turns colder in winter. Results collected by volunteers taking part in our weekly Garden BirdWatch survey show that for many resident species, including the charismatic Robin, winter is the peak time of year to see birds in gardens.

    ©John Harding

    However, the number of birds we see in gardens is usually a product of how much food can be found in the countryside. We know for example that numbers of Siskins coming into gardens each winter can be variable and is dependent on the natural resources of Sitka...

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  • There is some exciting habitat management work going on at Arne.

    Heathland takes a lot of management to keep it in good shape for wildlife. Over the last few years we’ve been working hard, with funding from Biffa and HLS, to manage over 50ha of gorse on our reserves.

    Now that the gorse is cut we need to follow this work up to stop it growing back in huge blocks, and to help heather to take its place. Gorse is pretty tough so it’s important to break up the roots in areas where we don’t want it to grow.

    There are lots of ways of doing this and we’ve been trying them out at Arne over the last few years. We believe that we can do more work in a shorter space using a tank than our traditional machinery.

    This method has been used elsewhere, and now the chance has come up for us to borrow a tank and we’ve leapt at the opportunity. We hope the weight and speed of the tank will disturb the ground so much that we will be able to see the bare sandy soil. This is great news for a whole range of...

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  • RSPB Arne covers around 550 hectares, this represents almost 1% of lowland heath in England. It is thought that we have lost 80% of our heaths since 1800. Now only 58,000 hectares remain. This decline is mirrored in other countries so that now, globally, this habitat is rarer than tropical rainforest. Many of these are fragmented and isolated from each other by roads, housing or other habitat types, forming barriers impassable to many of these species.

    Happily, most of the remaining heaths are now in the hands of organisations sympathetic to their needs and are being well looked after.

    When we think of heathland we often think of the wild expanses of beautiful flowering heathers and gorse, but there is so much more to the heaths. What is called ‘heath’ is in fact a complex mosaic of habitats, including grassland, bogs, ponds, mires, scrub, wooded edges, trees and, of course, the heather heath itself. But even within the term ‘heath’ are concealed three broad habitat types: dry...

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  • RSPB

    Over the last weekend of January an extraordinary wildlife phenomenon occurs across Britain. More than half a million human beings settle down beside their windows, many armed with a cup of tea, a pencil and notebook, and perhaps a pair of binoculars. These individuals will remain poised in their seats for exactly one hour, eyes trained on the slightest feathery movement in their gardens.


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  • Mark Thomas, Montagu’s harrier species lead for the RSPB recalls events in July 2016 when Martin Hughes-Games joined the team trying to catch and satellite-tag an adult female Montagu’s harrier in Norfolk.

    It was all rather secretive, a flight arrived at Heathrow, off got two scientists armed with a net, a very long ruler and a £5000 tracking device!

    They were whisked off into the night, arriving in deep rural Norfolk pre-dawn.

    This was not going to be any old day; it was going to be special. At a pre-arranged lay-by on the edge of a common several cars began to assemble. Introductions...

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  • Bird Ringing Recoveries Officer, BTO

    RSPB Arne is surrounded by Poole Harbour which offers a fantastic feeding resource for thousands of waders and wildfowl in autumn and winter. Additionally, during the autumn, thousands of birds, such as swallow, osprey and cuckoo, pass through on their migration south.

    Bird ringing is a great way of finding out how long birds live, where they come from and where they move to. Each bird ring carries an address with a unique number, so that if a ringed bird is encountered again, its history can be traced. During 2015, 28,479 birds were ringed in Dorset by BTO licenced ringers (see the online...

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  • Series Producer

    For most of us, wrapped up in our cosy, centrally heated homes and offices, the changes in the weather, as the seasons roll by, are little more than minor inconveniences.

    Sure we might forget the brolly sometimes. Our coat may not be as warm as we need that day. It might even take us a few extra minutes to scrape the ice off the car. However for our wildlife there are no such creature comforts. This often brutal and unforgiving season is the hardest time of the year.

    On Winterwatch we have spent the past few months out and about, charting how some iconic British animals deal with this...

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  • BTO

    Stephen McAvoy and Paul Stancliffe from the British Trust for Ornithology look at the ongoing events of the 2016 bird migration

    The high-pressure system has been stuck over Scandinavia for well over two weeks now and the resultant easterly winds across the North Sea have provided ideal conditions for the arrival of birds both coming here to spend the winter months and those that were migrating south from Scandinavia through continental Europe.

    Thrushes have been leading the charge, the most noticeable being large flocks of Redwing arriving on the east coast of Britain and continuing inland....

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  • Stephen McAvoy and Paul Stancliffe from the British Trust for Ornithology look to the east for the start of the annual bird migration. 

    October is probably the most exciting month for autumn migration, with most birds seemingly on the move, even if it is just from our gardens to the local woodland for some of our resident tits. It is the longer distance migrants that make it so exciting; birds arriving from the north and others leaving for warmer temperatures further south.

    The weather conditions play an important role in these arrivals and departures and observers pray for high-pressure...

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  • Autumnwatch and Springwatch series producer

    So Springwatch is over for another year….it seems to have shot by in a real blur and we’re left slightly dazed with that warm fuzzy feeling that you get after an incredible experience….and it was an incredible experience. Springwatch 2016 will go down in the record books as one of the most action-packed, dramatic and surprising Watches ever. I know we always say that we don’t know what to expect when we first arrive with our cameras and crews, but no-one could have predicted what happened.

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