News and Events
The purpose of this area is to inform readers of any up-to-the-minute news items that fall between Club Newsletter issues. Any news item that is worthy of immediate attention will be posted here. Checking this area may well provide answers to questions without having to contact Club officers to gain such information.
The Club is participating in a joint Curlew breeding survey and would welcome records of breeding or suspected breeding noted for this year 2019 in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Landowners and farmers will be contacted/visited later this year and early next to seek future protection measures where possible.
Eurasian Curlew - John Oates
Willow Tit Survey 2019/2020
The endemic race of Willow Tit (Poecile montanus kleinschmidti) is the second-fastest declining species in the UK,
after Turtle Dove, and is Red-listed. This resident subspecies has been lost from large areas of England in recent
In 2019 and 2020 the RSPB are organising a National Willow Tit survey which WMBC have been asked to support.
Steven Payne the Worcestershire County Recorder is already actively enlisting members to carry out surveys in that
County and needs more volunteers. Volunteers are also required to assist with surveying and recording in
Staffordshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.
As well as on reserves Willow Tits may just be hanging on in an odd corner of wet woodland in your County. A new
playback protocol can be used in this survey which has been proven to locate Willow Tits in woods where they had
been thought extinct. It is worth having a concerted look at the last few places with definite or probable records just
to be absolutely sure.
This will be an early spring survey with two visits between mid-February and mid-April using playback every few
hundred metres to attract the birds. We have been assured that a mobile phone is all the equipment needed for the
playback and a set of standard calls is available for download which you can find at the end of this post. There will be no need for a licence to use playback for this survey. You will of course need to know how to download calls onto your mobile and how to make it play them which may be a challenge for some of us! If phone technology is a challenge we will gladly receive your visual and heard records.
If you would like to help with the survey or know of a likely site that should be surveyed please contact
Nick Pomiankowski, Staffordshire County Recorder. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
or Chris Hill, Warwickshire County Recorder. e-mail: email@example.com
or in the West Midlands please contact Kevin Clements e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
and for Worcestershire Steven Payne: e-mail: email@example.com
WMBC Conservation Officer
Official Statement - The netting of Hedges and Trees.
In recent months, the subject of Hedges and trees being enclosed with fine mesh netting, has come to the forefront on social media. This activity, is mainly being practised by building development companies, to stop or inhibit birdlife from nesting & breeding in hedges and trees, that are destined for removal, on development sites. The occurrences are happening nationwide, including the West Midland Bird Club region of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and the West Midlands.
Whilst not an illegal activity in itself, the West Midland Bird Club’s stance, is that netting should only be used as a last resort where for example, development is already underway on a site and taking this action would avoid a future, potential active nest, being illegally disturbed or destroyed, by groundworks.
As previously stated, the netting of Hedges and trees is legal, but is coming under increasing ethical scrutiny, as in the last twelve months, there seems to have been a considerable increase in the use of nets on development sites, even before planning permission has been gained etc. It’s suspected that in some cases, that the pre-netting of some sites is being used, to try and smoothen the planning decision process. This is could be said to be an ethically unsavoury abuse, of the at present, legal use of these nets for covering hedges and trees. There has been instances of nets being in place, for in excess of a year, on undeveloped sites, the nets become damaged, allowing wildlife to enter, become trapped and in some instances die.
The increasing volume of sites being visibly netted, has naturally led to public ill feeling towards their use and also calls for lawful guidelines to be introduced, the West Midland Bird Club supports these calls. Sites countrywide are now being mapped to see the extent of use and there’s also an on-line petition which has been signed by upwards of 200th people as of the 4th April.
Of course, the use of netting, preventing birds from nesting and reproducing, in destined to be removed hedges and trees, brings the wider question into being, that of, why they are being removed in the first place. In an era of recognised, increasing pressure on our dwindling wildlife habitat and the proven benefits to human mental well-being from wildlife, the West Midland Bird Club calls for greater effort from Building Companies to retain these natural features into new building developments, see them as a positive sales feature, rather than a hindrance and from Local Planning Departments to show greater fortitude in protecting these wildlife valuable hedges and trees.