Churchyard Nature Note with Andrew Tompsett

February 2017

Look at the birds of the air

They do not sow or reap or store away in barns” . Matthew 6 v. 26

As the spring inches nearer, bird activity increases. The days are still short giving them less time to forage for food. The long nights are cold and soon they will need all their energy for pairing, mating, nest building, laying eggs and raising their young. Bird song is increasing as each species declares its territory and those that use our churchyard nest boxes are already getting excited.

It is disappointing to note the lack of Song Thrushes this winter: are we lacking snails and earthworms? Are the fledglings predated by cats and Magpies? In general, UK Song Thrush numbers have fallen by over 50% between 1970 and 2010 but there is a large, stable population ranging worldwide. Local birds are mainly sedentary but may be joined by a few migrants from colder areas including mainland Europe.

Our diligent volunteer work force has restored the nest boxes again most of which had been used including one that was hanging upside down! Foremost in this work has been Kate Williams and we were delighted to learn that she has received an award from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust in recognition of her many roles in wildlife conservation and recording, we also congratulate her.

My Bible quotation states that birds do not have to work. Whilst this is, of course true, they do have to compete with other stronger and braver ones and some do store food for the winter. Super crafty birds such as Jays actually collect acorns avidly and bury them in all sorts of places to be recovered later in the winter. Squirrels do the same and because many nuts are forgotten they grow, hence the wide distribution of oak trees in this country.

The next two months are vital for many bird species since it is likely that we are yet to experience the coldest weather. It is good to see so many people willing to spend a little on bird seed. Personally I think that feeding and watching the birds is one of life’s great pleasures, so much more interesting than the January sales!

Andrew Tompsett

Kate honoured at Volunteer Cornwall awards

At the end of November Kate, one of the Churchyard Maintenance Team at St Illogan Church, was presented with an award for the voluntary work she does with the Cornwall Wildlife Trust for their Seaquest Southwest project. This project uses public events to engage with people to help them understand more about the marine environment and carries out surveys to collect data on marine wildlife. Kate has helped with this project for four years.

Kate said “It was great to be nominated for this award and an honour to be chosen to receive it. The awards luncheon was a lovely event, so many wonderful people carrying out a wide range of volunteer roles and all so happy!”