Turnastone Court Farm Wildlife Survey – Bird Report
TURNASTONE COURT FARM
The farm is situated in an area surrounded by farmland, with few outside influences to its birdlife due to urban spread or industrial activity.
The bird population is mostly dominated by the influences of the hedged grasslands, the numerous water-courses, the farm-buildings and the areas of woodland on and adjacent to the farm.
The extensive hedged grass fields support a high density of hedge-nesting birds, with considerably more present in the areas where the hedges have not been severely trimmed.
The damper areas are of particular interest, with 2 pairs of curlew showing interest in the wetter fields, but not breeding there, this year. Species recorded on nesting-territories:
The River Dore and the numerous streams and channels running in to it, are influential not just to wholly riparian species, but also to the many birds using the bankside vegetation and trees to feed and nest. Those which nested were:
Farmhouse and outbuildings
The age and condition of the buildings on the site, have suited many species and produced quite a diversity of breeding. The house martins, nesting on the farmhouse were particularly quick in starting to build nests, due to the close proximity of suitable wet mud in the farmyard. Species nesting on the buildings were:
The small areas of woodland on the farm are all productive, with 3 small, separate rookeries, in the mature trees by the farm-buildings, in the trees behind the chapel and on the edge of the “plantation” in the North of the site. Species nesting in the trees and woodland were:
Summary of species
Mandarin (Aix galericulata) Female with 2 very young juveniles on channel, leading to R. Dore, opposite caravan-site.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) Pair with 8 juveniles on R. Dore.
Buzzard (Buteo buteo) Single bird, soaring over site on all visits.
Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) Single bird flying through site on several occasions.
Curlew (Numenius arquata) 2 pairs attempted to breed. Almost certainly put off by persistent carrion crows.
Stock dove (Columba oenas) 1 pair breeding in wood in North of farm.
Woodpigeon (Columba palambus) 2 pairs nested.
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 1 pair nested in barn.
Swift (Apus apus) Present in single numbers over fields, on later visits.
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) Pair with young on R. Dore.
Skylark (Alauda arvensis) 2 breeding territories.
Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 1 pair in barn.
House Martin (Delichon urbica) 10 nests under eaves on farmhouse.
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) Single bird feeding on meadow.
Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinera) Single bird seen. Breeding likely in viscinity.
Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) Pair nested in barn.
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) 12+ breeding territories.
Dunnock (Prunella modularis) 8 breeding territories.
Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 11 breeding territories.
Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) 2 breeding pairs – 1 in orchard by farm-buildings, plus 1 in wood at North of farm.
Blackbird (Turdus merula) 10+ breeding territories.
Song thrush (Turdus philomelos) 2 breeding territories.
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus) Single bird feeding.
Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) 10 breeding territories.
Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin) 8 breeding territories.
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) 8 breeding territories.
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) 5 breeding territories.
Willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus) 5 breeding territories.
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) 3 breeding territories.
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) 1 pair in wood on North of farm.
Coal Tit (Parus ater) 2 breeding territories.
Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) 11 breeding territories.
Great Tit (Parus major) 4 breeding pairs.
Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) 4 breeding territories.
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) 4 breeding territories.
Jay (Garrulus glandarius) Family group of 4 in trees around “plantation” at North of farm.
Jackdaw (Corvus menedula) 2+ pairs around chapel. 23 birds noted feeding in fields.
Magpie (Pica pica) Single bird feeding.
Rook (Corvus frugilegus) 3 separate rookeries of 4,2 & 1 nest. 20+ feeding birds on all visits.
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) 1 nest in alder by R. Dore. 30+ feeding in fields on all visits.
Raven (Corvus corax) 3 birds flying around farm on most visits, but no sign of breeding.
Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) Small mobile flocks feeding in meadows. No sign of breeding.
House sparrow (Passer domesticus) 2+ pairs, including 1 nesting in house martin’s nest on farmhouse.
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) 9 breeding territories, plus individuals feeding along hedgerows.
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) 5 breeding territories.
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) Pair on edge of field by farm-buildings. No sign of breeding.
Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) Pair in field adjacent to buildings, plus mobile small flock feeding across site.
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis cabaret) 5 feeding on larch by farmhouse, early in Spring.
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) Single bird seen.
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) 11 territories.
The site has a high density of most of the commoner hedge-nesting and hole-nesting birds, due to the majority of hedgerows not having been drastically flailed, and due to the mosaic of mature woodland pockets round the site.
Bearing in mind the locality, it was surprising to find no pied flycatchers breeding, but competition from tit-species would have been quite high. Great spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major), although not recorded on-site, were apparent in the area, and would also have posed a threat to the hole-breeders.
The attempts at setting up territories, by the two pairs of curlews, were upset by the constant attention of the carrion crows, whose numbers definitely need to be reduced.
The presence of the mandarin brood was surprising, as the species is a scarce breeder in the County, but the pollarded willows, along the water-channels, are ideal nest-sites.
The latter seem to be of obvious attraction to breeding little owl – a species that is in the locality, but not recorded on-site.
The one arable field would have been enhanced by wider margins, and the birds would benefit greatly, with the addition of a strip of wild-bird mix, adjacent to a hedgerow.
Although it is obviously a road-safety issue, the hedges adjacent to the road were noticeably trimmed drastically. This reduces natural cover for the nesters and is particularly dangerous for hunting barn owls.
The orchard contains several old and weathered trees, which are ideal for the redstarts, and could support tree sparrow.