Eakring Birds
Breeding bird survey 2001
Foot and mouth restrictions severely hampered this year's breeding survey. Despite this, most of the area could still be surveyed, maintaining the coverage of previous years.

It was an extremely interesting year, if not slightly frustrating. A total of 62 different species bred or attempted breeding, with a further four, almost certainly doing so. Only one previously successful species failed to breed during the Summer. The single pair of Jays, that bred in 1998 and 1999, failed to remain and breed in the area once again. Four species, Little Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Hobby and Quail, almost certainly bred, but final proof was unobtainable because of the restrictions.

With at least 28 regularly counted males and probably a similar number of females, Quail certainly must have attempted. Despite thorough observations, no young were ever observed, but it must be beyond doubt, that at least some were successful this year. Regular sightings of Hobby during the late Summer, mirrored a set of similar observations in the same area during 2000. At least one adult was accompanying and bringing food to one young and it was the same again this year.

Both Gadwall and Tufted Duck, were successful once again, after failure for both species last year. One pair of the former raised 12 young at Eakring Flash, the same site seeing Tufted Ducks with broods of nine and three. Gadwall is an uncommon breeder in Nottinghamshire and it's success here is heartily welcome.

It is widely known that several species, which were formerly common birds of the country's farmland, are under severe threat from the farming methods in practice today. 2001 saw a halt to the increases in recent years, for each of the following breeding species, Lapwing, Turtle Dove, Skylark, Whitethroat, Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer. The only exceptions were Grey Partridge, up by two pairs this year and Sky Lark, which again continued to increase.

A very interesting pattern has emerged from results since 1998. Four species have produced a very similar pattern of breeding levels. Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, Linnet and Lapwing , all showed a drop in breeding pairs during 1999, with higher levels in both 1998 and 2000, then a slight drop in 2001. With available nesting habitat remaining virtually the same for all except Lapwing, one attributable factor could have been the weather.

Many species may be slightly nomadic and irregular in their choice of breeding site, returning to the same large area, rather than the same particular hedgerow or field. Certainly Lapwings are dependent upon the correct habitat being present for breeding success. In the farmland within the area here, Lapwings it seems, rely on large open bare or sparsely vegetated fields being present. Stubble fields, left over Winter have generally been ignored as potential breeding sites, with birds preferring recently sown/prepared areas or Type C set-aside.

Linnet and Yellowhammer may be the most nomadic breeding species, perhaps reliant on cut or uncut hedgerow, with a good amount of ground cover. Uncut roadside verges may certainly help these species to increase once more, as also would the presence of Type B set-aside during the Winter months.

The fortunes of the above species, generally reflects a similar trend encompassing all breeding species. Many suffering a slight downturn in numbers on the previous season. Much of this can be attributed to an insufficient coverage of the area's most inaccessible sites, caused by the countryside closure. Despite very careful and prolonged listening, no doubt, some pairs were missed.

Migrant warbler totals were all down on last year, but Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, managed to stage a healthy comeback. Chiffchaff counts were up by five pairs and Willow Warbler totals were even better. During the year, some 26 pairs bred or attempted to, a total up by 12 pairs on 2000's figures.

Little Owl nests were also up on previous years. During the Summer, another two pairs were found in suitable (and formerly vacant habitat) in the eastern part of the recording area. Counts of Tawny Owl remained similar to all counts previous.