Kenfig NNR Blog
Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Tel: 01656 743386
Fax: As above
Yellowhammers disappear from Kenfig area. We have been aware of a gradual decline in these yellow farmland buntings but in 2008 no birds at all have been seen on the reserve or nearby land. As recently as 2002, males could be heard singing round the reserve car parks and along the roadside on the eastern boundary. One even liked to sing from the roof of the reserve centre building. The reason for this decline is not fully understood. Bad weather during the last two summers probably hasn't helped but the most likely cause is lack of food during the winter. Their favoured feeding areas in the winter are arable stubble fields with plenty of weed seeds and spilt grain. Local farmers appear to have changed to grazing pasture which is of little value to buntings and finches. Those who still grow crops in the area tend to plough in the stubble during the autumn and sow modern varieties of crop which grows during the winter. This is more efficient than waiting until the spring to plough and sow but provides no feeding areas for the birds during the winter. There is an urgent need for a weedy winter field in the Kenfig area!
We know what needs to be done to help and there have been many successful projects in the UK. The Glamorgan Bird Club has organised a farmland bird feeding scheme in the Vale of Glamorgan in partnership with farmer John Evans who sows a special sacrificial crop on a couple of acres of land. The mixture of seeds designed by the RSPB, grows during the summer and autumn but the farmer does not harvest it. Instead the crop is left on the field and flocks of finches, sparrows and buntings come in to feast throughout the winter. The field is ploughed and re-sown each May. The project is part funded by the Vale of Glamorgan Biodiversity Partnership.
Please get in touch if you have some land available and think that you can help.
To learn more about the plight of farmland birds in the UK follow this external link:
RSPB Swift action urged to restore threatened farmland birds
Late winter update: In an effort to help the situation, wheat, millet and black sunflower seeds were put out on an open weedy area between the Reserve's car parks from late December. Within a few weeks a good flock of house sparrows was feeding on the seeds with up to four yellowhammers and two reed buntings. Yellowhammers tend to nest quite near (within a few km) to where they feed in the winter so there is some hope that these birds will survive to breed locally.
Lost plant refound at Sker after 51 years.The discovery of at least 500 field gentians on coastal dunes at Sker Point has caused great exitement. The plants were last recorded in 1957 and have long been assumed to be extinct from the nature reserve. On 12 August Paul Parsons and Sharon Davies were photographing autumn lady's tressses orchids when Sharon noticed the gentians and identified them using a field guide. However, she was unaware of the importance of the discovery. Several weeks later the plants were independantly seen by several others including former plant recorder for Glamorgan and voluntary warden, Jeff Curtis. He was aware of the significance of the discovery and the news circulated. Nature Reserve Manager, David Carrington said:
"This is a significant discovery and credit goes to the finders and to the farmer Tony Evans who changed the grazing regime to winter cattle grazing two years ago. Sheep no longer nibble flowers during the summer and many plants on the short coastal turf have been given a chance to flower and set seed including this little gem."
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