Friday, 24 December 2010

Underdown, Haldon Forest - Wren Roost Update (yesterday 23/12)

The wren roosts at Underdown have been severely affected by the cold weather. Three days ago I counted about 30 birds going to roost in our house martin's nest. On returning home after a drink with neighbours at 9pm I saw that wrens were falling out of the nest and hopping about in the snow - the nest had collapsed. I immediatly decided to catch all remaining birds in the broken nest, so using a net I leant out of the bathroom window and took the whole lot including the nest. I transfered them into a cat basket and went to find other birds in the snow. Back indoors the birds had got out of the cat basket and we had 20 wrens flying around the house. We left them to go to roost and all birds flew off fine the next day at 8am. I spent the morning making a replica house martin nest for birds to use, and amazingly some used it the following night.

Wrens are also using our neighbours HM nests and last night one of their nests collapsed. Due to the prolonged cold weather this time birds were simple falling down dead. We immediatly got a ladder and decided to again take the remaining nest down plus birds all in one go. As I went up the ladder I was picking up hypothermic birds and putting them in my pockets. I pushed a box over the nest and slid a piece of board down against the wall, placing everything into the box. Decended the ladder with the box, I found more hypothermic birds and with my pockets full and no were else put them I ended up gently holding them in my mouth.

This morning we had 15 dead birds. I 'wren proofed' my studio, where I have housed the remaining 6 birds, feeding them live food. They have voracious appetites and will ONLY eat live food, despite what wild bird food suppliers say. They are doing well and will be released tomorrow morning, hopefully with a bit of reserve for the next 48hrs.

Some people may say I should not have interfered. A short period of cold weather, catching the first nest collapse would have saved about 20 birds, but after prolonged cold weather and the birds body reserve depleted there is very little one can do.

I estimate that about 60-100 wrens have been roosting within the immediate area and we are now down to about 10.

[from John Gale]