Sharborne Park   A Lewis

Congratulations to the pair of Mute Swans on Sherborne Water for hatching nine cygnets – quite a large brood – and then for seeing all nine through to near-adult size: this is much more unusual.

More worrying from Sherborne, though, is the complete lack of Willow Tit sightings. This is usually one of the few reliable sites in Gloucestershire outside the Forest of Dean for this red-listed species. None have been recorded here since before Christmas.

There have been a couple of recent Willow Tit surveys in the Forest of Dean. Ben Macdonald and Lewis Thomson attempted to identify territories and breeding success in 2010 and 2011, and Nick Christian and Rob Husbands have started a longer-term study including colour-ringing and the provision of nest-boxes.

An independent suggestion led to several NCOS members putting up some nest-boxes at Sherborne with permission from the landowners. The boxes are a short distance from the Willow Tits’ usual territories, and are packed either with wood-shavings or polyurethane foam: the birds insist on digging out a new chamber each breeding attempt.

Something's had a peck at this, despite the mud camouflage.

Something’s had a peck at this, despite the mud camouflage.

We aim to investigate whether the species will move the short distance and excavate the boxes, and general factors affecting the breeding of Willow Tits at this site.


‘Birds of the Cotswolds’ for Local Schools

It’s now four years since our Birds of the Cotswolds hit the shelves (and Amazon) and while there are still a few copies left, sales are slowing down.  Looking further forward, we will soon see the new BTO national atlas published, and The Birds of Gloucestershire will arrive this November.

Rather than see what are left of the Cotswold Atlases remaindered (or even pulped) to make space in the distributors’ warehouse, we have bought some of the stock at a much-reduced price.

The idea is to donate a copy to every Gloucestershire secondary school and further education college.  The Atlas is a useful reference for local wildlife projects.  It also shows what a small voluntary group like ours can achieve.

We want to get the book into the hands of anyone local who’s interested in birds or natural history in general, especially school and college students and their teachers.  Who knows who might be running the Society in a few years time?