Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Coming to a screen near you,.....How much would you miss birdsong? An invitation from RSPB Liverpool

Messenger promotion image

Heads up all members and bird friends.

RSPB Liverpool  are happy to announce that we are hosting a screening of a stunning and thought provoking film called The Messenger.  To be screened at the Picturehouse @ FACT cinema in Liverpool on Sunday 26 November 1pm . Rated PG, running time 90 minutes. 

All ticket holders will be entered into a raffle on the day including some goodie bags from the bird friendly coffee producers  https://birdandwild.co.uk/

After the screening all viewers are welcome to join the group in the cafe for an informal ‘ornithological social’  for anyone who wants to talk about the film, the issues it raises and more generally to find out  about the  RSPB’s activities in the area etc.

Tickets  available now from fact:

 Picturehouses - Cinema information for Picturehouse At Fact

Box office Number : 0871 902 5737

The Messenger is an essential film for anyone who cares about the environment and nature and full of insights and revelations for all audiences. It explores mankind’s deep-seated connection to songbirds and the devastating impact humans have had on bird species, from urbanisation, climate change and pesticides. 

Filmed across three continents The Messenger extends us a ‘birds’-eye view’ to offer fresh glimpses into epic migratory journeys while chronicling the struggle of songbirds worldwide to survive in turbulent environmental conditions. As scientists, activists and bird enthusiasts investigate this phenomenon, amazing secrets of the bird world come to light for the first time while beautiful slow motion photography illustrates the power and beauty of these delicate winged creatures.

The Messenger leaves viewers with a profound appreciation for the billions of birds with whom we share our communities and our planet – and with hope for our collective ability to turn the tide.  

Here’s a link to watch the trailer: https://youtu.be/LjQtRr4CKc

Messenger promotion image

Mark Avery (ex RSPB Conservation Director) : The Messenger is about the threats faced by songbirds – not just in the US and Canada but also in Europe and elsewhere.
It’s a good film and non-birders will probably find it just as compelling as those who, like me, sat through it with a self-generated commentary in their heads of bird names as different species appeared in view or in song.
There are some beautiful, and pretty much unique, images of birds in flight (taken in wind tunnels) and a lot of them in the wild too.  It is a vivid reminder of the fact that birds really are simply stunning – visually, vocally and because of the feats of migration they accomplish.
But life is tough for birds. The film started with issues and impacts such as collisions with buildings – probably a bigger issue in the US than in Europe (?) – but it moved on through trapping to the bigger issues of pesticides, land use and climate change. A lot of ground to cover (just like a migratory bird) but the film brought it home.
Hope to see you all there.....

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Report reveals continued persecution of birds of prey in Lancashire

Shot Hen Harrier Rowan - RSPB Images

·         RSPB’s Birdcrime report reveals a minimum of 81 confirmed incidents of bird of prey persecution in the UK during 2016.
·         Despite this, there were no prosecutions for these persecution offences, the first time this has happened in 30 years.
·         Illegal killing is not only robbing people of the chance to see birds of prey in the UK but has serious consequences for their populations.
·         The RSPB is calling for police and other enforcing authorities to make full use of all existing powers to protect birds of prey as well as the introduction of a licensing system for driven grouse shooting to ensure shoots are operating legally and sustainably.
Without urgent action some of UK’s birds of prey face a bleak future after the latest Birdcrime report revealed 81 confirmed incidents of illegal raptor persecution in 2016, without a single person prosecuted.
Birdcrime 2016 – the only report summarising offences against birds of prey in the UK – revealed 40 shooting, 22 poisoning, 15 trapping and four other incidents of illegal persecution against raptors. Among the victims were hen harriers, peregrine falcons, red kites and buzzards. However, evidence suggests these figures are just the tip of the iceberg with many illegal killings going undetected or unreported.
The report revealed that close to two-thirds (53) of the confirmed incidents took place in England. In Lancashire confirmed incidents included a shot peregrine, a shot kestrel and an illegally trapped peregrine.
People in Lancashire and across the UK have been robbed of the chance to see these spectacular birds because of these illegal incidents, yet there wasn’t a single prosecution related to them – the first time this has happened in 30 years.
Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: “Birds of prey bring our skies to life. There is nothing like seeing a diving peregrine or a skydancing hen harrier. The sights of these spectacular birds are something we should all be able to enjoy, unfortunately illegal activity is robbing us of this and preventing them from flourishing. There are laws in place to protect these birds but they are clearly not being put into action. We need governments across the UK to do more to tackle the illegal killing to protect our raptors for future generations to enjoy.”
Previous research has shown that illegal killing of birds of prey is associated with land managed for intensive driven grouse shooting, leaving vast areas of our uplands without raptors. A Natural England report revealed ‘compelling evidence’ that persecution of hen harriers – associated with driven grouse moors - was the main factor limiting their recovery in England 
The RSPB believes the introduction of a licensing system for driven grouse shooting would help tackle the ongoing illegal persecution that occurs on these grouse moors. This would also help tackle the wider problems of intensive management of ‘big bag’ driven grouse shooting, like the draining of and burning on fragile peat bogsA fair set of rules in the form of a licensing system could help ensure shoots are operating legally and sustainably and introduce the option of restricting or removing a licence in response to the most serious offences, for example where staff on an estate have been convicted of illegally killing birds of prey.
The RSPB welcomes a recent announcement by Scottish Government that will see an independent panel established to review options for regulation of grouse shooting and to look at the economic and environmental costs and benefits of the industry.
Bob Elliot, RSPB Head of Investigations, said: “This latest Birdcrime report continues to highlight that in the UK we have a major issue with birds of prey being deliberately and illegally killed, despite having full legal protection. This type of crime has serious consequences for the populations of species, such as the hen harrier, and we must see a change in attitude and more effective law enforcement to protect these birds for years to come.”
For the full copy of Birdcrime 2016 report summarising the extent of illegal persecution offences against birds of prey in the UK, visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdcrime.

  Birdcrime is a unique publication. It is the only centralized source of incident data for wild bird crime in the UK. The RSPB does not record all categories of wild bird crime. Instead we focus on recording crimes that affect the conservation status of species, such as bird of prey persecution and threats to rare breeding birds.
UK breakdown of the 81 confirmed raptor persecution incidents:
·         40 confirmed shooting incidents
·         22 confirmed poison abuse incidents
·         15 confirmed trapping incidents
·         3 confirmed other persecution incidents
·         1 confirmed nest destruction incident

Country breakdown of 81 confirmed raptor persecution incidents:
·         England 53 confirmed incidents (65%)
·         Wales 13 confirmed incidents (16%)
·         Scotland 9 confirmed incidents (11%)
·         Northern Ireland 6 confirmed incidents (7%)

A future for the Hen Harrier in England? A report by Natural England: http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/81030

  All birds of prey have been protected since the 1954 Protection of Birds Act (except for the sparrowhawk which received protection in 1961).
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is the primary legislation which protects animals, plants and certain habitats in the  UK. Under the act all wild birds, their nests and eggs are protected.
 Reporting a wildlife crime:

Crimes against wildlife should be reported to the local police via the 101 number. Crimes against wild birds can also be reported to the RSPB online or by calling the RSPB. 

If you have any sensitive information about the illegal killing of birds of prey, please report it by calling the RSPB’s confidential hotline on 0845 466 3636. Calls to this number are not recorded and will be treated in the strictest confidence.

Homegrown garden designer to create new Cheshire nature park

Alexandra Froggatt

An award-winning Cheshire-based landscape designer has been commissioned by the RSPB to create a new nature park in Somerford near Congleton.
Alexandra Froggatt, who is based at nearby Sandbach, has been given the challenge of transforming almost nine acres of former farmland into a wildlife haven and an amenity for local residents.
This site forms part of a parcel of land bequeathed to the RSPB by the late Mrs Rhead who was a resident of Somerford. After considering the best way to meet the needs of both the local community and the organisation’s obligations as a nature conservation charity, the RSPB decided to create the nature park – which will be named Rhead’s Meadow – and give it to the Parish Council following its completion. 
Through her company Alexandra Froggatt Design, which she established in 2010, Alexandra has built up an impressive reputation for designing beautiful and functional residential gardens across Cheshire and beyond. She has also designed and installed five show gardens for the Royal Horticultural Society and Gardeners World Live, one of which earnt her a coveted Gold Award.
Alexandra Froggatt said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have been appointed as the designer by the RSPB for this project. It’s a fantastic opportunity to transform the land into a beautiful place for both wildlife and local residents to enjoy. I previously lived very close to the site and am passionate about being involved with the community to improve the space.”
Ben Costello, Project Manager at the RSPB, said: “We are really pleased that Alexandra is joining us on this project. She has got loads of creative energy, and has already greatly impressed Somerford Parish Council with her initial ideas for the nature park. I can’t wait to see the final design.”
Rhead’s Meadow nature park is scheduled to open after Easter 2018.
For the latest news about the RSPB in Northern England follow us on Twitter @RSPB_N_England.

For more information about Alexandra Froggatt Design, visit: www.alexandrafroggatt.com  

Friday, 13 October 2017

Count the wildlife that’s counting on you

House Sparrows came top in Merseyside and  Nationally 2017   L Bimson 

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2018
Half a million people are expected to watch and count their garden birds for the 2018 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in January.
The world’s largest garden wildlife survey, now in its 39th year, takes place on 27, 28 and 29 January 2018. The public are asked to spend just one hour watching and recording the birds in their garden or local green space, then send their results to the RSPB.
Close to half-a-million people joined in the world’s largest garden wildlife survey in 2017 counting more than eight million birds and providing valuable information about the wildlife using our gardens in winter. The house sparrow remained top of the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings, with starling and blackbird rounding off the top three.

Waxwing in Aigburth Liverpool  L Bimson
Last year’s Big Garden Birdwatch also revealed an explosion in the number of recorded sightings of waxwings. These attractive looking birds flock to UK gardens in winter once every 7-8 years when the berry crop fails in their native Scandinavia. Known as an ‘irruption’, results showed that waxwings were seen in around 11 times more gardens in 2017 compared to the last couple of years, with sightings as far west as Wales and Northern Ireland.
Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist said: “The birds we see in our garden are often the first experience we have with nature – whether it’s a flock of starlings at the feeder, a robin perched on the fence or some house sparrows splashing in the bird bath. But it may come as a surprise to know that some of our most-loved species are in desperate need of our help as their numbers have dropped dramatically.
“The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great opportunity to get involved with helping our garden wildlife. By counting the birds that visit your outdoor space, you’ll be joining a team of over half-a-million people across the UK who are making a difference for nature. It only takes an hour so grab a cuppa, sit back and see who makes a flying visit to your garden.”
Species such as starlings and greenfinches have seen their numbers visiting gardens decline by 79 and 59 per cent retrospectively since the first Birdwatch in 1979.
Robin in Winter   L Bimson
But it wasn’t all bad news. There was good news for robins in last year’s survey, with the average number seen visiting gardens at its highest level since 1986, helping it climb two places to number seven, its joint highest-ever position in the Big Garden Birdwatch rankings.

Daniel added: “With over half a million people now regularly taking part, coupled with nearly 40 years worth of data, Big Garden Birdwatch allows us to monitor trends and helps us understand how birds are doing. With results from so many gardens, we are able to create a 'snapshot' of the birds visiting at this time of year across the UK. Even if you see nothing during your Big Garden Birdwatch hour, that’s important information too, so please let us know.”
Grey Squirrel eating sunflower seeds  L Bimson

As well as counting birds, the RSPB is once again asking participants to log some of the other wildlife they have seen throughout the year. This year, people are being asked to look out for badger, fox, grey squirrel, red squirrel, muntjac deer, roe deer, frog and toad. 

To take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2018, participants should watch the birds in the garden or local park for one hour at some point over the three days. Only the birds that land in the garden or local park should be counted, not those flying over. The highest number of each bird species seen at any one time then needs to be sent to the RSPB.
The parallel event, Big Schools’ Birdwatch takes place during the first half of spring term next year, 2 January-23 February 2018. Further information can be found at rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch
Hedgehog tunnel in fence  L Bimson
Big Garden Birdwatch and Big Schools’ Birdwatch are part of the RSPB Giving Nature a Home campaign, aimed at tackling the house crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. The charity is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their gardens or outdoor spaces – whether it’s putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond for frogs or building a home for hedgehogs.

For your free Big Garden Birdwatch pack, which includes a bird identification chart, plus RSPB shop voucher and advice to help you attract wildlife to your garden, text BIRD to 70030 or visit rspb.org.uk/birdwatch  

Registration for Big Garden Birdwatch 2018 opens 13 December 2017.


Mixed finches at feeding station   L Bimson

  As you sit snugly by the fire this winter, spare a thought for our feathered friends. Their survival skills are tested to the limit when winter tightens its grip and food becomes hard to find. Freezing weather is a potential death sentence for many birds, but with just a little water, food and shelter, gardens can become a vital haven for birds and other wildlife

In days of yore the RSPB held a ‘Feed the Birds Day event’ every year on the third week of October.  Nowadays we advocate people feed our birds all year round and the events have ceased. However we at RSPB Liverpool think it’s still a good time of year - as the nights draw in and our birds have less time to feed, to give out a timely reminder. 

October is the month the clocks go back and the winter nights start drawing in - it's the time when birds and other wildlife need a little extra help as the first frost looms. So please fill your feeders, clean your bird tables, put out some water and give a helping hand to the wild birds around you. And the sooner you start feeding them, the more birds you'll see when you sit down to enjoy the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch in January! You may be surprised how the number changes according to the food you put out. And don't forget a place to sleep, start putting up nest boxes now to provide roost sites for smaller birds. They will then be used for breeding later in the year.



Feeding suggestions.
·         High calorie wild seed mixtures, and straight seeds i.e. sunflower hearts
There are different mixes for feeders and for bird tables and ground feeding. The better mixtures contain plenty of flaked maize, sunflower seeds, and peanut granules.
Foraging Goldcrest  L Bimson
Small seeds, such as millet, attract mostly house sparrows, dunnocks, finches, reed buntings and collared doves, while flaked maize is taken readily by blackbirds. Tits and greenfinches favour peanuts and sunflower seeds. Pinhead oatmeal is excellent for many birds. 
Fat balls,suet cakes and pellets are excellent winter foods. You can make your own by mixing melted beef dripping and a mixture of ingredients such as seeds, nuts, dried fruit, oatmeal, cheese and cake crumbs. use about one-third fat to two thirds mixture. Allow to set in a feeding container, empty coconut shell or simply turn out onto the bird table once solid.
Male Blackcap eating fatcake  L Bimson

Mesh bags – a warning- Peanuts and fat balls are regularly sold in nylon mesh bags. Never put out any food in mesh bags. These may trap birds’ feet and even cause broken or torn off feet and legs. Birds with a barbed tongue, eg woodpeckers, can become trapped by their beaks.

·         Bread: has very low nutritional content and is essentially filler, ideally it should only be fed as part of a varied diet. Soaked bread is more easily ingested than stale dry bread.

·         Windfall and over ripe fresh fruit i.e. Apples, pears & other soft fruit. Dried fruits must be soaked before putting out, sultanas, raisins, currants.
Mistle thrush  L Bimson

·         Peanuts: are rich in fats and are of major importance to tit and greenfinch flocks during the winter and cold spring months. Salted peanuts should never be used for bird food.  

·         Rice and cereals: Cooked rice, brown or white (without salt added) is beneficial and readily accepted by all species during severe winter weather.  Porridge oats must never be cooked, since this makes them glutinous and can harden around a bird's beak. Uncooked porridge oats are readily taken by a number of bird species. It is best offered dry, with a supply of drinking water nearby.

·         Coconut: Give fresh coconut only, in the shell. Rinse out any residues of the sweet coconut water from the middle of the coconut before hanging it out to prevent the build-up of black mildew. Desiccated coconut should never be used as it may swell once inside a bird and cause death 
   Salt: Garden birds are practically unable to metabolise salt, which in high quantity is toxic, affecting the nervous system. Under normal circumstances in the wild, birds are unlikely to take harmful amounts of salt.  Never put out salted food onto the bird table, and never add salt to bird baths to keep water ice-free in the winter. 

Blackbirds fighting over cake  L Bimson
·   Other kitchen scraps: cake crumbs, a little mild grated hard cheese, leftover cooked potato - plain baked, roast and pastry.


   Wiggly worms? Mealworms, yes I know they look like shiny maggots, but they are not so squishy, and handling them is rather like grabbing a handful of animated rice! More to the point the birds love them. Serve live or dried. It is very important that any mealworms fed to birds are fresh. Any dead or discoloured ones should not be used as they can cause problems such as salmonella poisoning.
Robins loves mealworms  L Bimson

'Wild birds are incredibly important in the lives of many people; the RSPB's celebrates this special relationship and encourages everyone to feed garden birds.

Good hygiene at bird feeding stations is sensible.  

When a large number of birds are attracted into an area to feed, the danger of disease increases.
Prevention is always better than a cure, and is the best thing you can do to help the birds.
Monitor the food you put out regularly. If the food is taking days to clear either from consider reducing the amount of food offered. Use a bird table and/or hanging feeders. A ground feeding tray is  easier to keep clean and moved if all the food hasn’t been ate before nightfall.* Rats are attracted to leftover food and often carry diseases, which can affect birds or humans.
Keep bird tables and surrounding areas clean and free from droppings or mouldy food, thus avoiding the risk of infection by providing breeding grounds for parasites and bacteria. Clean and wash the bird table and hanging feeders regularly using 5% disinfectant solution, and try and move feeding stations to a new area frequently to prevent droppings accumulating underneath. Water containers should be rinsed out as droppings can accumulate in bird baths. Your personal hygiene is also important. Please wear gloves when cleaning feeders and bird tables, and always wash your hands when finished

Where is the best place to put a bird table in my garden?

Bird tables should be placed where the birds are safe and will be able to feed undisturbed. Avoid putting them near fences or dense hedges, where cats can easily get to them.  If there is a small bush nearby, birds can use this as a look-out point to make sure it is safe. 
Where cats are a problem, avoid putting food on the ground, but use a bird table where cats cannot reach it.
Place feeders high off the ground but away from surfaces from which a cat could jump.

Place spiny plants (such as holly) or an uncomfortable surface around the base of the feeding station to prevent cats sitting underneath it.

Make the table-stand slippery using a metal post, or plastic bottles around non-metal posts.

Fieldfare and Redwing on Pyracantha.
Plant wildlife-friendly vegetation, such as prickly berry bearing bushes like pyracantha, berberis and cotoneaster and thick climbers in the garden to provide secure cover for birds. These should be close enough to where birds feed to provide cover, but not so close that cats can use it to stalk birds.  This kind of planting may also provide food and nesting sites.