Jan 052017
 

There are several GNS meetings in the coming few weeks –

GNS Indoor Meeting Friday 13th January

The next GNS Indoor Meeting is due to take place on Friday 13th January 2017 at Watermoor Church Hall, Cirencester, GL7 1JR; 7.00 for 7.30 pm – the subject of the meeting being Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group to be presented by Andrew Bluett. Come and see a presentation detailing the voluntary work of GRMG and have a chance to learn more about birds of prey and owls in Gloucestershire and beyond.

GNS Outdoor Meeting Sunday 15th January

A visit to Walmore Common, of General interest but also in search of wetland and winter birds to be led by Andrew Jayne (01452 506502 / 07919 278806) – meet at 9.30 am in the lay-by at Walmore Hill School, SO 747 145, the meeting will last until 12.00 mid-day. A rare chance to visit this area of wetland and meadows with a very knowledgeable guide. Please dress appropriately for the weather, wellingtons will be necessary.

GNS Outdoor Meeting Sunday 22nd January

A visit to Forthampton & Lower Lode, General Interest to be led by Mike Smart (01452 421131) – meet at 10.00 am until 12.30. Meet in front of the Lower Lode Inn (SO 878 317) on the west bank of the Severn (opposite side from Tewkesbury), access past Forthampton Court on the unclassified road off the A438 west of Tewkesbury. Please dress appropriately for the weather, good boots or wellingtons will be necessary.

Indoor Meeting – Wednesday 25th January

Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group are holding an indoor meeting on Wednesday 25th January at Ribston Hall High School off Stroud Road, Gloucester, GL1 5LE, 7.00 for 7.30pm.

Barn Owls, with Colin Shawyer – Colin is a raptor biologist and professional ecologist specialising in birds, mainly birds of prey and has published widely on this subject. He was Director of the Hawk and Owl Trust between 1988 and 1998. He undertook work for the BTO between 2000 and 2010 developing and implementing its Barn Owl Monitoring Programme and in 1988 founded the Barn Owl Conservation Network (BOCN); he is BOCN Coordinator for UK and Ireland. He oversees and undertakes extensive Barn Owl nest monitoring every season.

Tickets are still available via the GRMG web-site at https://glosraptors.co.uk/shop/

Details of all forthcoming meetings are available on the GNS Web-Site together with a map & directions for Watermoor Church Hallwww.glosnats.org/diary/

 

Jan 052017
 

Further to the post on the subject of Avian Influenza a few days ago, inevitably there have been more cases / outbreaks in the UK already, notably in Carmarthenshire and elsewhere. There are exclusion zones in place and specific rules relating to domestic birds.

For the best and most up-to-date information – please refer to the DEFRA web-site at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/avian-influenza-bird-flu

If you find a dead bird be very careful about handling it, H5N8 is not normally a risk to humans but do not take any chances… and do not risk transmitting it to any other birds, please see the guidance and notes at the same DEFRA web site and on the BTO web-site.

Dec 292016
 

As we exit the year 2016 and enter 2017, cold weather in the east has provoked a rise in the number of migrants from Europe; waterfowl in particular have started to arrive in greater numbers in search of less frost affected wetland areas.

We have been aware for a number of years of the potential for Avian Influenza in various strains to be carried by long distance migrants and of the potential consequences both for the wild bird populations and domestic (farmed) birds which are concentrated in large numbers in various facilities across the UK where the demand for meat and eggs is high, and especially so in the autumn as Christmas approaches with the spike in demand for Chicken, Turkeys, Geese and Ducks as festive fare.

Outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza (AI) have been widely reported across the old world with news of slaughter programmes being put in place in for example Iran & Japan where hundreds of thousands of birds are affected. H5N8 is not a threat to human beings but the potential loss of much of the supply to the human consumed meat trade would have other consequences.

By mid-November, eight countries in Europe had reported detections of H5N8 in such species as Tufted Duck, Coot, Pochard, gulls, geese and swans. None of the outbreaks were in the UK but the risk level was increased to medium from low.

Inevitably, the threat was realized in a short timescale; by the first week of December 2016, infections of H5N8 HPAI in wild, captive or domestic birds had been reported in 14 countries across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

By mid-December as a result of an outbreak in Turkeys at a Lincolnshire poultry farm, the BTO issued an advisory note that an exclusion zone had been declared and that all trapping & ringing operations of wild birds in the zone were suspended. On 22nd December WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre was obliged to close as a precautionary measure, following the finding of a dead wild Wigeon on the Loughor estuary. WWT, together with other organizations is vigilant and takes a cautious approach to such outbreaks since there is much at stake, particularly in their collections of captive wildfowl.

From the BTO web-site comes the following information:

General government guidance on avian influenza can be found at:

The latest information from Defra and the Animal and Plant Health Agency on the current outbreaks in poultry, captive and wild birds in Europe can be found at:

What to do

Birdwatchers /naturalists can be of great assistance in staying alert for unusual cases of mortality or sickness in wild birds. If you notice unusual mortality in Great Britain, i.e. five or more wild birds dead in the same location, you should report them by calling the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77 (Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm) and selecting option 1, or by emailing defra.helpline@defra.gsi.gov.uk.In Northern Ireland such wild bird mortality incidents should be reported to the DAERA Helpline: 0300 200 7840.

Reports are also encouraged when a single dead wild duck, wild goose, swan or gull is found. Not all birds may be picked up for testing, but collating this information may reveal patterns of mortality.

It should be stressed that HPAI is a disease of birds. It is of great concern for the poultry industry but does not appear to be a major issue for human health in the UK. Whilst deaths have occurred in other countries, the numbers of cases have been very low and have been confined to people in very close contact to infected poultry. The advice is that there is no danger from eating well-cooked poultry and there is certainly no danger from normal birdwatching activities. Sensible basic hygiene should be used if you do come into closer contact with birds.

Feeding birds:

It is extremely unlikely that bird flu could be transmitted to people by feeding birds in the garden. Birds carry a variety of diseases, such as salmonella. The single most important action we can take, to protect both the birds that feed in our gardens and ourselves, is to follow hygiene guidelines.

In all circumstances, after handling bird feeders, cleaning bird baths or feeding birds, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Bird feeders should be washed and cleaned regularly to prevent spread of diseases such as salmonella. This should be done outside in your garden with dilute disinfectant (normal household bleach diluted 1:20).

What do I do if I find a dead bird?

Many thousands of birds die every week of natural causes and so it is not unusual to occasionally find dead birds. If, however, you find five or more dead wild or garden birds together in the same place and you are suspicious of the cause of death, do not touch the birds and contact Defra using the details above. This is particularly important for species like waterfowl.

Where possible, avoid directly touching any dead birds. If you move a dead bird (e.g. if a cat brings one into your house or you need to check if it is ringed), invert a plastic bag over your hand and pick the bird up in the plastic. If the bird is ringed, report the ring details to the BTO (www.ring.ac), then draw the bag over your hand and tie it up and dispose of it in your usual household waste, then wash your hands with soap and water.

Ringers have been issued with more detailed guidance at

Ringing should be suspended within any 10km Surveillance Zones where these are put in place around infected premises.

Nov 262016
 

Polecats have not in living memory been very common in Gloucestershire but are now believed to be increasing as the population rises in the west and Wales so that more animals are spreading eastwards into the county. In the GNS News of March 2014, John Field, the county Mammals Recorder appealed for members to “Keep an eye out for Polecats”.

In January 2014 Andrew Bluett found a road casualty near The Swan Inn at Coombe Hill; around the same period, another road casualty was found by Andrew Bluett and Juliet Bailey near Westbury on Severn, both were reported to John Field.

In the past couple of months, a GNS member has accidentally trapped Polecats in his garden near Woolaston, to the south-west of Lydney:

“On Thursday 20th October 2016 I caught a well-marked Polecat in a squirrel trap in our rural garden; it had entered the trap during the afternoon and was released unharmed.  It looked well-marked, with dark paws and was in excellent condition.  I weighed the trap with and without it with a small 7lb spring balance, the net weight of the Polecat being 1lb 12oz.  The Polecat had a very strong smell.

On Sunday 6th November 2016 we caught a second Polecat in the garden – in the same trap but a different Polecat, as evidenced by the very different colouring/markings. This one had a paler head but still had a good mask and brown paws, again it was 1 lb 12 oz.  Not nearly such a strong smell as the first one.  I released it in the garden where it made a high speed dash for a hedgerow!

Our previous polecat records were daytime views on 8th August 2001 and 11th July 2002; we had not seen any since then until these recent animals appeared and none have triggered our infra-red ‘trail’ camera. Perhaps there are many more around than would seem from sightings?”

Polecats are wary of humans and are rarely seen alive, most sightings being road casualties. I had seen many such animals on extensive travels in mid and south Wales on business, often on the hard shoulder of the M4 between Chepstow and Swansea, occasionally I saw live animals in more rural areas in daylight. Clearly there are more to be seen and no doubt most are not reported, but if you see one, let us know, or send your records direct to John Field at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust or to GCER (Gloucestershire Centre for Environmental Records). If you come into direct contact with a Polecat that is alive, be very careful of handling it, they do bite, hard and deep…!

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Road casualty, Coombe Hill, January 2014

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Road casualty, Coombe Hill, January 2014

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Woolaston Polecat No 1 – dark mask – the smelly one!

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Woolaston Polecat No 2 – more distinct mask

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Woolaston Polecat No 2 makes a dash for freedom after release

Nov 152016
 

Curlews, with Mary Colwell, 7.30 Wednesday 23rd November, Gala Club, Fairmile Gdns, Gloucester, GL2 9EB. Free – no booking necessary, donations welcome on the evening.

Mary works with BBC Wildlife in Bristol, and has been deeply concerned at the decline of the Curlew, not only in UK, but in Ireland, where the decline has been even more dramatic. To draw attention to this issue she undertook a 500 mile walk in May, beginning in Ireland and ending in Lincolnshire. Details of her walk and of many other Curlew projects are presented on her website www.curlewmedia.com. She is currently active in promoting  actions to conserve Curlews, and in raising funds for this purpose. She is organising (in cooperation with the Irish official conservation authorities) a conference on Curlews at Tullamore, County Offaly, in early November, is holding a series of public Curlew evenings to publicise Curlew issues, and is a key figure in planning the major workshop planned for Slimbridge on February 2nd.

 Posted by on 15th November 2016 at 17:34
Nov 102016
 

Gloucestershire Ornithological Co-ordinating Committee organises an annual Winter Garden Bird Survey in Gloucestershire and would like more volunteers to take part during the coming winter – January and February of 2017.

As the umbrella body for recording in the county and as members of GOCC, GNS is supporting this project and on behalf of the organisers and is appealing for volunteers who might wish to take part – this is an easy and informal survey that is of real use and can be done from the warmth and comfort of your own home – no need to get wet, cold and muddy…!

Details as follows:

Gloucestershire Ornithological Co-ordinating Committee – Winter Garden Bird Survey Anyone?

The Gloucestershire Ornithological Coordinating Committee runs a winter garden bird survey each year for nine weeks in January and February. We would love to have additional surveyors who can recognise all the common garden birds and some of the less common ones.  Only those living within the Gloucestershire county boundary can take part. The survey involves counting the number of birds you see which have actually landed within your garden boundary and keeping a tally of the maximum number of each species seen (simultaneously) in the garden each week.  It doesn’t matter if you are away for a week or two in January and February.

A report is sent to all surveyors after the results have been analysed.  All the records are sent to the County Bird Recorder, who says that they constitute an important part of the county’s bird records.

If you would like to take part, please contact Vic Polley – 01453 842896

mvicpolley at tiscali.co.uk (at =@)

Nov 062016
 

The next GNS Indoor Meeting is due to take place on Friday 11th November 2016 at Watermoor Church Hall, Cirencester, GL7 1JR; 7.00 for 7.30 pm – the subject of the meeting being “A Lane in the Midlands Forest” presented by Mike Lane FRPS. Mike is a full-time wildlife photographer specialising in birds and mammals and with a particular interest in the new and little known Heart of England Forest in Warwickshire; excellent photos and an interesting commentary.

Details of all forthcoming meetings are available on the GNS Web-Site together with a map & directions for Watermoor Church Hall – http://www.glosnats.org/category/news/meetings/

Nov 022016
 

The next GNS Field Meeting is due to take place on Sunday 6th November 2016 at Frampton On Severn – a meeting of Autumn Birds and general interest along the canal and river to be led by Andrew Bluett (01452 610085). Meet in the car park by the swing bridge at the north end of the village SO 746 084, 10 for 10.30 to approx. 1.00pm. Please dress appropriately for the weather and conditions under foot. Come along and take a look at the wildlife and countryside in Autumn along the Gloucester-Sharpness Canal and River Severn.

more information . Cbs46.com . view post