16 October 2013

Can you spare a morning for Gower Tree Sparrows this winter?

Andrew Lucas wrote:
Regular readers of Gower Wildlife will know the effort put in to try to support western Gower’s dwindling tree sparrow population.  A small breeding group at the derelict Newton Farm near Scurlage was present for many years, but despite nestboxes and supplementary feeding, appears to have disappeared.  However, birds are still occasionally seen, most recently a single bird in a garden in Rhossili in 2013.

I met with colleagues from the City and County of Swansea recently to discuss what we should do now.  We have a number of initiatives with local farmers, many of whom are very enthusiastic about farmland birds in general.  But we also need a systematic survey of likely areas where tree sparrows my still be present.  They can be very secretive, and often live in places that birders tend not to go.

There are five key tetrads that need checking for tree sparrows – and other farmland birds like yellowhammers and reed buntings – this winter.  They are SS48 J, P and N, and SS49 F and K.  In addition, there is a sixth area, a group of three 1km squares near Rhossili.  There are loads of footpaths to walk, so if everyone who reads this blog just spared one morning this winter to look at a tetrad, we would have comprehensive information on how many tree sparrows are still present, and where we should target future efforts.  And, for the rarity-minded birder, don’t forget: the 2009 gyr falcon was found during tree sparrow survey work!
If you decide to take a look, please let me know.  You can contact me at andrew.lucas@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk .  Many birders (appropriately enough!) are now using twitter, where you can find me at @AndrewLucas103.  Tell me what you find even if you don’t see any birds.

I’m sure that, between us, we can get all six areas looked at least twice this winter.  I know many of you are already busy with WEBS or the winter thrush survey.  But, working together, I’m sure we can find out more about Gower’s most enigmatic bird.


Jeremy said...

Hey, that's my photo!
I tend to concentrate on photography (and filming), rather than 'birding', these days, but will try to get out for a look at some point.

Barry Stewart said...

Thanks Jeremy - Andrew sent it to me post and I just assumed it was his. I guess he's had permission previously, so if you're ok with it I'll add a credit to the pic next time I boot up ;)