03 January 2013
The Hungry Gap?
I came across an interesting article in the magazine 'Conservation Land Management' recently*. It described some results from the GWCT work at Loddington, Leicestershire, where they have been undertaking systematic winter feeding of farmland birds. They have found that winter food supplies were sufficient up to Christmas, but become close to exhausted early in the year, leading the what they term the 'hungry gap' between January and late March. Winter feeding significantly boosted the numbers of birds on the farm during the winter, and led to higher breeding bird numbers in the subsequent April and May. So, if you want to feed farmland birds, January, February and March seem to be the key months.
There is a new feeding station for tree sparrows at Monksland Farm, and a second is now in place at the 'traditional' site at Newton (see map). You can easily walk between the two using public footpaths, so anyone can go down and take a look. If the work from Loddington is transferable to Wales, it would suggest that we are coming up to the most important period for winter feeding, when any sightings of tree sparrows will be particularly valuable.
If you manage to visit, please let me know, even if you don't see anything! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 07968 838152
*Stoate, C. (2012) 'Filling the hungry gap - late-winter supplementary feeding of farmland birds'. Conservation Land Management Winter 2012, 4 - 7.