Spring 2002 No 9 is available from address at the end. It is re-printed here to ensure it reaches the Biological Recording Community.
This issue has joined the others on the web site
|Nightingales in Worcestershire|
|Progress report on the Biodiversity Action Plan|
|Regional bid success.|
Sixty years ago the rich, fruity song of the nightingale would have been a common sound on warm spring evenings in the woods and thickets of Worcestershire. Sadly numbers have been declining recently - in 1999 singing males were only heard at 59 locations, lower numbers than in previous years - and it seems that the population could have decreased by more than half in the last twenty years. For this reason nightingales were one of the species included in the Worcestershire Biodiversity Action Plan. One of the areas in the county where you might still hear nightingales is at Severn Trent Water's Water Treatment Works at Strensham. The scrubby vegetation that has grown up around the site provides the ideal conditions for these rather elusive birds. An evening walk was recently hosted by Severn Trent Water to mark the publication of a leaflet which provides advice and information on creating habitat that will attract nightingales.
According to research by the British Trust for Ornithology nightingales have rather particular needs when it comes to scrub. They prefer thickets of young, vigorous blackthorn or hawthorn, especially where a dense canopy of twigs and leaves descends to the ground around the edges, leaving bare or leaf-litter covered ground in the centre. They use the cave-like spaces beneath the scrub for foraging for insects and nesting.
At Strensham scrub habitat of the right structure for nightingales was created as part of a landscaping scheme and was promptly occupied by nightingales. Male nightingales return to the same spot each year to sing, and young males are attracted to breed near older singing males if there is suitable habitat. So, if more land-owners and managers can be persuaded to create similar scrub habitat in the right areas, we could start to see a reverse of the decline of this wonderful bird.
For a copy of the leaflet write to Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, Lower Smite Farm, Smite Hill, Hindlip, Worcester WR3 8SZ, or download a copy from the Worcestershire Biodiversity Partnership web site - www.worcestershire.gov.uk/biodiversity.
The latest figures for nightingales were just some of the statistics that were reported in the Summary of Progress against Objectives that was recently produced by the Worcestershire Biodiversity Partnership. This document summarises some of the gains and losses of species and habitats, and also describes the wealth of work that has been undertaken in relation to the Worcestershire BAP.
The full report is available on the Biodiversity Partnership web site, but in summary the message is mixed - in some cases habitats are being restored and re-created, and some species are increasing in numbers or stable. Other habitats and species however are not doing so well.
Nightingales, adders, water voles, and high brown fritillaries have all declined, although in most of these cases recent survey work has flagged up where the remaining populations are, and work has started to try to protect them.
For other species, such as bats, stag beetle and hornet robberfly we still do not know enough to be able to tell whether populations are stable, increasing or declining. Several species however do seem to be stable or increasing, for example the club-tailed dragonfly, and brown hairstreak butterfly.
On the habitat side substantial amounts of grant money have been obtained to help fund restoration and re-creation work on lowland heathland and wetland habitats including wet grassland and reedbed. Other projects are still being worked up, such as a bid to the Rural Development Programme for funding for a seed harvesting operation to provide local provenance seed from high quality Worcestershire grasslands.
The Progress report shows that the Worcestershire Biodiversity Partnership has been extremely active over the last couple of years, with many partnership projects underway and more planned, and a good level of support for, and awareness of, the Biodiversity Action Plan for Worcestershire and what it is trying to achieve.
Community Strategies are documents that are intended to improve the social, economic and environmental well-being of a community, based on the priorities and needs of the community.
It is important that biodiversity is taken into account when drawing up these documents, and the Biodiversity Partnership, as well as individual conservation organisations such as English Nature and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, are working with Local Authorities to try to ensure that this is the case.
The West Midlands Biodiversity Partnership has successfully bid for funding from the Environmental Action Fund to help meet the costs of employing a Regional Biodiversity Manager and a Promotions Officer to take forward the Partnership's three year work plan. The new posts will help ensure that biodiversity is integrated into regional programmes, policies and plans and will raise awareness of biodiversity issues in the rapidly developing regional agenda.
|Lowland heathland is a nationally scarce habitat, and here in Worcestershire we have embarked on a three year project to restore the areas of heathland that occur across the north of Worcestershire.|
|A leaflet has been produced that describes areas of heathland across the UK that can be visited to enjoy this wonderful habitat. For copies of the leaflet contact Alex Preston on the email address at the bottom of the page.|
|Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is surveying open water and black poplars this spring and summer. The open water survey will include around 50 water bodies across the county which are greater than 1 hectare in area. The information gathered will be used in the review of pool Special Wildlife Sites.|
|This year's Meadow Seminar is being held at the Lugg Meadows, Herefordshire. The event is organised by the Grassland Forum for Worcestershire and Herefordshire, and the seminar is aimed at owners of flower-rich grassland.|
For further details on any of the above please contact me.
Alex Preston, Biodiversity Action Plan Manager, Environmental Services, PO Box 373, County Hall, Spetchley Road, Worcester WR5 2XG. Tel 01905 766852. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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