There has been quite a lot of winter bird activity around Sheldon in the last few weeks. I see in the Parish newsletter that some people have noted the starlings flying over at sunrise and evenings, it is good to see them. I have also noticed them feeding in fields along Johnson Lane.
This species has suffered a rapid decline in population in recent years in England and as a result is a priority UK Biodiversity Action Plan species and it is also on our Red list! There is evidence that this population decline is due to poor first-year overwinter survival rates, which is thought to at least in part, caused by to changes in pastoral farmland management.
The first graph below shows the East Midlands Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) index and illustrates the decline from 1994 -2012. The lower graph illustrates the decline in England as a whole from BBS and Common Bird Census (CBC) index from 1960-2011.
Source: BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey.
Further information can be found at http://blx1.bto.org/birdtrends/species.jsp?&s=starl
Other birds seen around the village in recent weeks include a pair of ravens in the centre of the village; approximately 200 black-headed gulls and a dozen or so lesser black-backed gulls in fields along Johnson Lane, flocks of fieldfares have also been seen fairly regularly.
I put up a few bat boxes around the village about 18 months ago and I had chance to check them the other week, with the help of Georgina, but there was no sign of any use by bats so far, although some had been used by roosting birds, probably wrens or blue tits, judging by the droppings inside. There are no guarantees that bats will use them of course, and sometimes it can take a few years if they do, but I will continue to check them annually and hopefully put a few more up.
Below is a map of bat sightings around the village over the last 3 years, you can click on it to enlarge it, I will try and do a better quality one later that can be accessed on the side bar. These are species I have recorded on my bat detector or in a couple of cases dead bats found.
Key: Pp = Common Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus); Ppy = Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus); Mm = Whiskered Bat (Myotis mysticinus); Md = Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii); Msp = Myotis species; Pa = Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus); Nn = Noctule bat (Nyctalus noctula).