Glamorgan Bird Club is or has been involved in a number of projects, all with birds in mind. This page, which is under construction, will provide some information about what we are involved in, with links to websites and blogs where there are specific ones relating to individual projects. As an initial flavour of what we are doing, two major undertakings are the Swift project and a Willow Tit survey, both being species that have seen dramatic declines in their populations in recent years. Watch this space for developments on this new page. We are also just getting involved with a major Rookery survey, both for our local area and in partnership with the BTO who are organising a Wales wide survey. It involves surveying Rookeries to see which have breeding activity. There’s a full page on this site here, which gives all the detail and how to get involved.
Glamorgan Swift Project
Swifts have seen a dramatic decrease in numbers nationwide as well as in our area as can be seen from the albeit rather old graph above. Over the last 30 years in Glamorgan, the numbers have decreased by about 50%. So it was in 2016 that the Club decided to start up a project with a view to trying to put the brakes on this alarming decrease. The first step was to put out a request for ‘Swift Champions’ who would undertake to monitor and record Swift numbers and breeding activity in their neighbourhood and to generally make people aware of the plight of ‘their’ birds, and also to investigate opportunities for putting up nest boxes on buildings. One of the reasons for reduced breeding numbers is the lack of suitable crevices such as under eaves, in modern buildings. The project gradually built up and the Swift Champions have a dedicated blog:
Since the beginning, we have managed to put up Swift nest boxes in churches, schools and other buildings and the push for more goes on. The eventual ‘jewel in the crown’ was our success in obtaining HLF funding to finance the construction and erection of a Swift Tower with 90 nest boxes and a call system in Cardiff Bay, in a joint project with RSPB Cymru and Cardiff Harbour Authority. There’s a couple of images of the tower in the gallery in the header above. A full history of our activites on the Swift front can be seen on the blog hyperlinked above. It’s best to start with the older posts – use the ‘Blog Archive’ facility in the RH column [scroll down a little]. The Swift Tower year was 2019 when it was finally erected in May. The other thing that is being pushed is the use of Swift bricks in new builds – these are customised bricks that can be incorporated into the building at a suitable height, to provide nesting holes for Swifts. Click here to see a page detailing their construction and use.
Willing for Willow Tits Project
Willow Tit is yet another declining species in the UK and was identified by RSPB as a species that warranted a national survey. Coincidentally we had identified Willow Tit as a species that we needed to investigate as its decline in our area had been highlighted by the gradually decreasing number of records received each year and published in our annual Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report. There’s a blog with all the details about our survey work, set up by our local BTO man, Wayne Morris. Here’s a link:
Our survey was supported by funding from the Welsh Ornitholigical Society.
Our first survey period was from April to December 2018, one year ahead of the RSPB. Some info about the RSPB survey can be seen here:
The plan was to tie in with the RSPB survey so we could carry out surveys of tetrads in our area that were part of their survey, as well as surveys of 1km squares that were being visited as part of our own survey.
At the time of writing this of course, everything has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the 2019-2020 survey has been badly affected.
Farmland bird feeding
For a considerable number of years now, in co-operation with a farmer in the Vale of Glamorgan, we have been providing winter feed for farmland birds such as Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Goldfinch, and Chaffinch. This was made possible by the farmer, John Evans, at Ty’n-y-caeau Farm, between Monknash and Marcross, setting aside a long strip of land down one edge of one of his fields. GBC then supply ‘sacrifical crop’ seed which we buy in bulk, and John sews it. The seed bought this year comprised a mix of Buckwheat, Quinoa, Triticale, Wheat, Sunflower, Fodder Radish and White Millet. There is alos a large bird feeder on site which is kept topped up by voluinteers. The site is also used to ring farmland birds. We are very grateful to John the farmer for continuing to support this project.
Nest box building
Whenever we get the chance, we get together a team of volunteers and make nest boxes of various sorts for putting up in schools, woodland in the area, or indeed any suitable location. Often these ‘workshops’ are co-ordinated with the annual National Nest Box Week, which has been going since 1997 when it was set up by the BTO and Britain’s leading birdcare specialist, Jacobi Jayne & Co. In addition to what must be 100’s of standard ‘tit boxes’ made over the years, we’ve also made huge Tawny Owl boxes, boxes for Starlings and many more. Examples of where they’ve gone include the Ty Hafan children’s hospice in Sully, where we put up a tawny owl box, and in some old oak woodland at Ty Tangwlyst Farm, North Cornelly.