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Old 21-03-2004, 07:44 PM
Tumbleweed
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)


"Colonel Bloomer" wrote in message
...
On Thu, 18 Mar 2004 07:46:05 +0000, Mike McDowall
wrote:

On Wed, 17 Mar 2004 21:56:48 -0000, "Christina Websell"
[email protected] wrote:

I have some news that I know you'll be interested in, Mike, about the

house
sparrow project. Kate rang me last night, she is now writing up her
conclusions.
The conclusion is, lack of aphids and invertebrates as the main cause of

the
house sparrow decline, lack of nestsites also.

Thanks for this Christina. I have discussed this with loads of friends
over the years, and all are agreed that there are far fewer flies of
many kinds than ~30 years ago. The next question is why ?

Too many tidy gardens and houses.

In what way ? I would also consider farmland, but as a farmer I am fed
up of certain conservation organisations who _only_ consider farmland.

I suspect that 30 year period has seen a vast increase in use of
insecticides. We need very little to farm in Scotland compared with SE
England. Even so, our sparrow population has been on a roller coaster
ride, and now I have some sparrows, while my neighbour has none. What
is more perplexing is that he keeps cattle, and I have no livestock.

While we don't use as much insecticide, there are certain crops which
are vulnerable and often treated. Seed potatoes are a particularly
vulnerable crop, but less obvious crops such as spring sown oil seed
rape almost always need insecticide.

I have another area of concern, which is the autumn use of pyrethroids
on cereals. This is to prevent aphid vectors spreading disease. My
first concern is that our advice is that this is environmentally sound
practice (enough to get me worried). Secondly, if we chop a sector out
of the annual cycle too effectively, can the beasties recover ?

Can any gardeners / town house holders identify common practices that
they think might be worth examining ? trends in usage or behaviour
that might correlate with observations on population ?



Interesting post and a worthy crosspost to relevant groups to open the
discussion, if we are to ever solve the mystery.

I think trying to enforce a complete and artificial environments is to
blame. Gardeners who don't like creepie crawlies and farmers who
simply hate the idea of anything else getting a free meal. We see this
day in and day out with people whining "how do I get rid of" such and
such a pest, insect. I would suggest if people cannot live with nature
as it is then they should look elsewhere for amusement, preferably at
something that will not destroy our planet eventually.

I think bugs may be good logic. My seed feeders are hardly touched by
sparrers (south london) or rather they are touched and then promptly
dumped on the ground. Maybe we are just bringing a generation of
sparrers that don't know how to eat seeds!

Maybe the buggers are getting fussy in their old age, maybe seeds aint
what they used to be?


ISTR reading a few years ago that the number of sparrow hawks had risen
hugely since the 1940's, maybe to 50,000 or more, whereas 60 years ago or so
they were persecuted and very few and far between. If the difference was
say, 40,000 sparrowhawks between then and now, and they each ate 1 sparrow a
day, that would be 14 million less sparrows a year. Plus, every day I see
loads of magpies (probably 10 or 20), which I believe eat other birds eggs.
When I was a kid I don't think I ever saw one. I would guess the number of
magpies must have risen 10 fold in the last 30-40 years. That must account
for a fair few sparrows (and similar) as well. Certainly there are lots of
aphids and the like in my garden in the summer and I would have said that
most gardeners nowadays used less chemicals than 30 years ago. You certainly
cant have a rise in the number of predators and expect the prey to remain
constant, after all isn't that the point of all this organic gardening we
hear about, encouraging predators such as hoverfly and ladybirds into
gardens? If that works for them, I don't see why it wouldn't work for
sparrow hawks/ sparrows as well.

--
Tumbleweed

Remove my socks for email address


  #19   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 07:46 PM
Anne Burgess
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)

I'll bet that 50 years ago, sparrers weren't being offered marijuana
seed in their bird seed mix!
But it has appeared under my feeder before now.
Ned


Really???? I wonder if eating the seeds has the same effect on birds, as
eating/smoking the leaves has on humans???
Michelle Fulton


I've found (and uprooted!) the occasional plant under my seed feeders too. But I
believe that the type of hemp seed in seed mixes is a slightly different species
from cannabis, even though the plant looks quite similar.

Anne


  #20   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 08:35 PM
Colonel Bloomer
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)

On Sun, 21 Mar 2004 19:32:25 -0000, "Tumbleweed"
wrote:


"Colonel Bloomer" wrote in message
.. .
On Thu, 18 Mar 2004 07:46:05 +0000, Mike McDowall
wrote:

On Wed, 17 Mar 2004 21:56:48 -0000, "Christina Websell"
[email protected] wrote:

I have some news that I know you'll be interested in, Mike, about the

house
sparrow project. Kate rang me last night, she is now writing up her
conclusions.
The conclusion is, lack of aphids and invertebrates as the main cause of

the
house sparrow decline, lack of nestsites also.
Thanks for this Christina. I have discussed this with loads of friends
over the years, and all are agreed that there are far fewer flies of
many kinds than ~30 years ago. The next question is why ?

Too many tidy gardens and houses.
In what way ? I would also consider farmland, but as a farmer I am fed
up of certain conservation organisations who _only_ consider farmland.

I suspect that 30 year period has seen a vast increase in use of
insecticides. We need very little to farm in Scotland compared with SE
England. Even so, our sparrow population has been on a roller coaster
ride, and now I have some sparrows, while my neighbour has none. What
is more perplexing is that he keeps cattle, and I have no livestock.

While we don't use as much insecticide, there are certain crops which
are vulnerable and often treated. Seed potatoes are a particularly
vulnerable crop, but less obvious crops such as spring sown oil seed
rape almost always need insecticide.

I have another area of concern, which is the autumn use of pyrethroids
on cereals. This is to prevent aphid vectors spreading disease. My
first concern is that our advice is that this is environmentally sound
practice (enough to get me worried). Secondly, if we chop a sector out
of the annual cycle too effectively, can the beasties recover ?

Can any gardeners / town house holders identify common practices that
they think might be worth examining ? trends in usage or behaviour
that might correlate with observations on population ?



Interesting post and a worthy crosspost to relevant groups to open the
discussion, if we are to ever solve the mystery.

I think trying to enforce a complete and artificial environments is to
blame. Gardeners who don't like creepie crawlies and farmers who
simply hate the idea of anything else getting a free meal. We see this
day in and day out with people whining "how do I get rid of" such and
such a pest, insect. I would suggest if people cannot live with nature
as it is then they should look elsewhere for amusement, preferably at
something that will not destroy our planet eventually.

I think bugs may be good logic. My seed feeders are hardly touched by
sparrers (south london) or rather they are touched and then promptly
dumped on the ground. Maybe we are just bringing a generation of
sparrers that don't know how to eat seeds!

Maybe the buggers are getting fussy in their old age, maybe seeds aint
what they used to be?


ISTR reading a few years ago that the number of sparrow hawks had risen
hugely since the 1940's, maybe to 50,000 or more, whereas 60 years ago or so
they were persecuted and very few and far between. If the difference was
say, 40,000 sparrowhawks between then and now, and they each ate 1 sparrow a
day, that would be 14 million less sparrows a year. Plus, every day I see
loads of magpies (probably 10 or 20), which I believe eat other birds eggs.
When I was a kid I don't think I ever saw one. I would guess the number of
magpies must have risen 10 fold in the last 30-40 years. That must account
for a fair few sparrows (and similar) as well. Certainly there are lots of
aphids and the like in my garden in the summer and I would have said that
most gardeners nowadays used less chemicals than 30 years ago. You certainly
cant have a rise in the number of predators and expect the prey to remain
constant, after all isn't that the point of all this organic gardening we
hear about, encouraging predators such as hoverfly and ladybirds into
gardens? If that works for them, I don't see why it wouldn't work for
sparrow hawks/ sparrows as well.


Interesting points and quite feasible. However I don't wear it, in my
garden the mags live happily side by side with the other birdies and I
cant recall the last time I saw a bird of prey here, so not that
common I'd guess.




  #22   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 08:45 PM
Colonel Bloomer
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)

On Sun, 21 Mar 2004 19:32:25 -0000, "Tumbleweed"
wrote:


"Colonel Bloomer" wrote in message
.. .
On Thu, 18 Mar 2004 07:46:05 +0000, Mike McDowall
wrote:

On Wed, 17 Mar 2004 21:56:48 -0000, "Christina Websell"
[email protected] wrote:

I have some news that I know you'll be interested in, Mike, about the

house
sparrow project. Kate rang me last night, she is now writing up her
conclusions.
The conclusion is, lack of aphids and invertebrates as the main cause of

the
house sparrow decline, lack of nestsites also.
Thanks for this Christina. I have discussed this with loads of friends
over the years, and all are agreed that there are far fewer flies of
many kinds than ~30 years ago. The next question is why ?

Too many tidy gardens and houses.
In what way ? I would also consider farmland, but as a farmer I am fed
up of certain conservation organisations who _only_ consider farmland.

I suspect that 30 year period has seen a vast increase in use of
insecticides. We need very little to farm in Scotland compared with SE
England. Even so, our sparrow population has been on a roller coaster
ride, and now I have some sparrows, while my neighbour has none. What
is more perplexing is that he keeps cattle, and I have no livestock.

While we don't use as much insecticide, there are certain crops which
are vulnerable and often treated. Seed potatoes are a particularly
vulnerable crop, but less obvious crops such as spring sown oil seed
rape almost always need insecticide.

I have another area of concern, which is the autumn use of pyrethroids
on cereals. This is to prevent aphid vectors spreading disease. My
first concern is that our advice is that this is environmentally sound
practice (enough to get me worried). Secondly, if we chop a sector out
of the annual cycle too effectively, can the beasties recover ?

Can any gardeners / town house holders identify common practices that
they think might be worth examining ? trends in usage or behaviour
that might correlate with observations on population ?



Interesting post and a worthy crosspost to relevant groups to open the
discussion, if we are to ever solve the mystery.

I think trying to enforce a complete and artificial environments is to
blame. Gardeners who don't like creepie crawlies and farmers who
simply hate the idea of anything else getting a free meal. We see this
day in and day out with people whining "how do I get rid of" such and
such a pest, insect. I would suggest if people cannot live with nature
as it is then they should look elsewhere for amusement, preferably at
something that will not destroy our planet eventually.

I think bugs may be good logic. My seed feeders are hardly touched by
sparrers (south london) or rather they are touched and then promptly
dumped on the ground. Maybe we are just bringing a generation of
sparrers that don't know how to eat seeds!

Maybe the buggers are getting fussy in their old age, maybe seeds aint
what they used to be?


ISTR reading a few years ago that the number of sparrow hawks had risen
hugely since the 1940's, maybe to 50,000 or more, whereas 60 years ago or so
they were persecuted and very few and far between. If the difference was
say, 40,000 sparrowhawks between then and now, and they each ate 1 sparrow a
day, that would be 14 million less sparrows a year. Plus, every day I see
loads of magpies (probably 10 or 20), which I believe eat other birds eggs.
When I was a kid I don't think I ever saw one. I would guess the number of
magpies must have risen 10 fold in the last 30-40 years. That must account
for a fair few sparrows (and similar) as well. Certainly there are lots of
aphids and the like in my garden in the summer and I would have said that
most gardeners nowadays used less chemicals than 30 years ago. You certainly
cant have a rise in the number of predators and expect the prey to remain
constant, after all isn't that the point of all this organic gardening we
hear about, encouraging predators such as hoverfly and ladybirds into
gardens? If that works for them, I don't see why it wouldn't work for
sparrow hawks/ sparrows as well.


Interesting points and quite feasible. However I don't wear it, in my
garden the mags live happily side by side with the other birdies and I
cant recall the last time I saw a bird of prey here, so not that
common I'd guess.


  #24   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 08:55 PM
Stephen Poley
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)

On Sun, 21 Mar 2004 17:43:09 -0000, "ned" wrote:

Colonel Bloomer wrote:

snip

Maybe the buggers are getting fussy in their old age, maybe seeds aint
what they used to be?


Well there's a truism.
I'll bet that 50 years ago, sparrers weren't being offered marijuana
seed in their bird seed mix!
But it has appeared under my feeder before now.


Possibly not in feeders, but Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is native to the UK,
so they could well have been eating it anyway.

--
Stephen Poley
uk.rec.birdwatching FAQ: http://www.xs4all.nl/~sbpoley/ukrb.htm
  #25   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 09:08 PM
Oz
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)

Tumbleweed writes
ISTR reading a few years ago that the number of sparrow hawks had risen
hugely since the 1940's, maybe to 50,000 or more, whereas 60 years ago or so
they were persecuted and very few and far between. If the difference was
say, 40,000 sparrowhawks between then and now, and they each ate 1 sparrow a
day, that would be 14 million less sparrows a year. Plus, every day I see
loads of magpies (probably 10 or 20), which I believe eat other birds eggs.
When I was a kid I don't think I ever saw one. I would guess the number of
magpies must have risen 10 fold in the last 30-40 years. That must account
for a fair few sparrows (and similar) as well. Certainly there are lots of
aphids and the like in my garden in the summer and I would have said that
most gardeners nowadays used less chemicals than 30 years ago. You certainly
cant have a rise in the number of predators and expect the prey to remain
constant, after all isn't that the point of all this organic gardening we
hear about, encouraging predators such as hoverfly and ladybirds into
gardens? If that works for them, I don't see why it wouldn't work for
sparrow hawks/ sparrows as well.


Tsk, tsk!

Its not PC to suggest that predatory birds reduce prey numbers.



--
Oz
This post is worth absolutely nothing and is probably fallacious.
DEMON address no longer in use.


  #26   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 09:45 PM
Doctor J. Frink
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)

On Sun, 21 Mar 2004 20:14:53 +0000, Colonel Bloomer wrote:

Interesting points and quite feasible. However I don't wear it, in my
garden the mags live happily side by side with the other birdies and I
cant recall the last time I saw a bird of prey here, so not that
common I'd guess.


As a datum-point: we had a sparrowhawk take a starling in our terrace
backyard the other day, in Milton Keynes. We've only had birds regularly
visiting for a few weeks prior to this (only recently set up food/drink
for the tweeters).

We're getting lots of sparrows, which appear to be scaring off the tits
which were the first to scout out the grub. The mixed seed is going down
very quickly whilst the peanuts are barely being touched.

Frink

--
Doctor J. Frink : 'Rampant Ribald Ringtail'
See his mind here : http://www.cmp.liv.ac.uk/frink/
Annoy his mind here : pjf at cmp dot liv dot ack dot ook
"No sir, I didn't like it!" - Mr Horse
  #27   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 10:07 PM
Christina Websell
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)


Colonel Bloomer wrote in message
news

Meant to add. I reckon the nest sites is a major contribution as well.
As kids we used to rip the tiles up off old roofs in the city and
there were literally hundreds of nests in a single block of roofs.
These are all largely gone now, so no more nest sites. Must be a major
factor I'd have thought.


That was another of Kate's conclusions. My roof is absolutely stuffed with
sparrow nests, they can get in as I have sort of "wavy" rendering on the
house walls.
Just down the road a neighbour has a bungalow with shingles on the side.
One or two of them are broken, and sparrows are nesting in there, too.
They like to nest in occupied buildings. UPVC cladding, soffits and
bargeboards are a lot easier for maintenance, but they cannot get in.
Sometimes, in the very early morning, the males are chirping to attract a
mate and it wakes me up. I curse them a bit then..
I'm glad to have them though. Mostly ;-)
However, it is no good having nest sites if there's no food for the babies.

Tina




  #28   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 10:07 PM
Jim Webster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)


"Oz" wrote in message
news
Tsk, tsk!

Its not PC to suggest that predatory birds reduce prey numbers.

wouldn't happen anyway, they are all vegetarians

On a more serious note I have noted that swallow numbers tend to fall as
milk cows leave. Drink more milk and eat more beef to keep the bird numbers
up


Jim Webster



--
Oz
This post is worth absolutely nothing and is probably fallacious.
DEMON address no longer in use.




  #30   Report Post  
Old 21-03-2004, 10:37 PM
Colonel Bloomer
 
Posts: n/a
Default Lack of invertebrates / house sparrows (was Reed Buntings)

On Sun, 21 Mar 2004 21:48:02 -0000, "Christina Websell"
[email protected] wrote:


Colonel Bloomer wrote in message
news

Meant to add. I reckon the nest sites is a major contribution as well.
As kids we used to rip the tiles up off old roofs in the city and
there were literally hundreds of nests in a single block of roofs.
These are all largely gone now, so no more nest sites. Must be a major
factor I'd have thought.


That was another of Kate's conclusions. My roof is absolutely stuffed with
sparrow nests, they can get in as I have sort of "wavy" rendering on the
house walls.
Just down the road a neighbour has a bungalow with shingles on the side.
One or two of them are broken, and sparrows are nesting in there, too.
They like to nest in occupied buildings. UPVC cladding, soffits and
bargeboards are a lot easier for maintenance, but they cannot get in.
Sometimes, in the very early morning, the males are chirping to attract a
mate and it wakes me up. I curse them a bit then..
I'm glad to have them though. Mostly ;-)
However, it is no good having nest sites if there's no food for the babies.


Shame the RSPB are not inclined to spend some of our millions and do
some serious research into this decline, especially as it's so topical
of late.




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