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Wildlife on the Marshes
by John Coates


Birds of Prey

Some of the most visible of our local birds, they are an indicator of the "health" of an area as they depend on a good supply of prey to survive. To remain "resident" they also need nest sites and our range of mature oaks, willow pollards, old farm barns and tall hedges provide these although the tendency to "tidy up" the landscape is removing some of them.


In conservation terms these are the most important species on the Marsh and they are basically a remnant of what would have been present in much greater numbers years ago when the land had more wet areas and spring cereals. They tend to be very prone to disturbance and as they nest in the open with minimal cover are an easy target for predators. Some simple but well thought out and carefully placed conservation measures could be of significant benefit to these species.


These are mostly farmland birds and several species have declined nationally to very low numbers. The main reasons appear to be tidier cropping and more efficient harvesting, leaving less spilt grain, more autumn sowing leaving less stubble and removal of hedges. We still have a reasonable level of hedgerow and margin but improvements can be relatively simply achieved by trimming boundaries to a better shape leaving denser growth to provide nesting cover and shelter from predators. Game cover and feeding sites give valuable winter sustenance and are a lifeline where other food sources are absent.


Finches have similar requirements to buntings and also benefit from the mixed landscape and winter game cover. They are again very much birds of farmland but will also venture into gardens.


With a few isolated exceptions these are all summer visitors and collectively they provide a significant proportion of the birdsong that makes spring on the Marsh so special.

Water Birds

It hardly needs saying that these birds find our habitat suited to their needs and the variety of types of waterway provide nesting and feeding areas. Changes to the management of our drainage system, if carried out with care, could significantly benefit these birds.









Longdon & Eldersfield Marsh Conservation Trust

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