'Helping our wildlife'

05th April 2010
Over the Christmas period we had some heavy snow that layed on the ground for quite some time, this caused a lot of problems for all wildlife. Lakes froze over and stayed frozen for weeks. So the RSPB asked for help with one particular bird which has slowly been making a come back after a decline in numbers, the Bittern. Efforts in trying to create and restore the perfect reedbed and habitat needed for these birds and also Bearded Tits (which I will talk about shortly) has been ongoing for a number of years now with success. The RSPB had asked people to help feed Bitterns with fish as they cannot obviously catch their own from under the the thick ice and would starve to death! Bittern in cold freezing weather will move about to try and find a lake which is not frozen. Near where I live there are some large deep lakes, one in particular, that has had a Bittern turn up for a few years now when all the other lakes freeze up. Because this lake is so large and deep it is one of the last to ice over.
This year I had a call from my friend Niel to tell me that there were certainly 3 Bitterns on the lake possibly more, so I went down to take a look.
I saw one of them and a couple of the people there decided to feed them, already armed with a bag of sprats.
These were thrown into the dense reedbeds in areas where the Bitterns had been seen.

Neil armed With the sprats.....

and Bittern print in the snow.......

We also decided to build a couple of platforms for the Bitterns to feed from and also they could possibly be used by them to nest on if any decided to stay and breed. Just maybee one day they will........


Unfortunately I never managed to get any images of the Bitterns as they were just too far away and elusive.
My friend Neil and a couple of others carried on feeding them until the weather got better and the lakes defrosted.

Also a cople of times over the last few years we have had a few Bearded Tits turn up on another local lake. Unfortunately they have not stayed and have moved on.
So I had a word with the people who run the lake to see if we could make some special nesting boxes for them to stay and breed.
They agreed and so myself and Neil made 10 Of these boxes which are actually a long pole with reed held vertically then tied top and bottom and opened in the middle, to create a slit where the birds can enter and nest.
So off we set with the boxes over the Christmas break and with waders on we set about placing them in different areas of the large reedbed.

Me 'Hammering' one in place....

and Neil....

We had to mark the position of them a couple of metres away as we could easily lose them in the dense reeds.

Only time will tell if they use them but other nature reserves and the RSPB have used these nest boxes with a lot of success.
I have got to keep an eye on these now and moniter the use of them if they turn up again, it would be great one day to have a population of these gorgeous little birds that myself and a few others have helped, as birds like the Bearded Tit and the Bittern need all the help they can get, after all its nearly always mankind that has turned up and destroyed breeding grounds or habitats for so many species............
One of the nests in place.....

Hopefully one day soon.......a Bearded Tit!

Thanks for having a read!