Updated: Feb 11
The meeting was held at 6pm, 9 February 2023
1. The hedgehog project
Natasha Gavin the Hedgehog project coordinator officer provided some background and an update about the hedgehog project.
Populations were surveyed in three hog hot spots across Ealing: a. Pitshanger Park b. Brent Lodge Park (aka the Bunny Park) and 3. Elthorne Park and Extension.
The current phase includes creating hedgehog highways in neighbourhoods to help them move more freely. In addition, there will be creation task days for habitat management.
A blog post about the project can be found here.
Next volunteer Event: 20 May 2023 Facebook event link
Come along and take part in our second hedgehog habitat creation day 🦔! We will be creating places for hedgehogs to hide during the warmer months and to hibernate in the colder months.
This is a joint collaboration with Ealing Park Rangers who will be providing us with the necessary logs and leaves!
This is part of our ongoing Hedgehog Highway project which is kindly sponsored by the William Hobbayne Charity.
If you would like to get more involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Warren Farm Protest 21 Feb
Protesting is a visual and important way to show disagreement to injustices carried out. A march to be held against the decision made by Ealing council to proceed with building sports facilities on the site will take place on Tuesday 21 February.
After a very lively, informative and active communication re where we have been and what we have seen this month, a summary can be found in points 3 and 4 of the sections below.
3. Discuss what we have spotted this month.
I have recently discovered the diversity of my local cemetery. It is such a peaceful place, rich with a range of birds, trees, shrubs and moss (and I have no doubt, a huge range of insects too).
Whilst out earlier in the day, I noticed a very small bird, flying around a cluster of trees. I waiting to see if I could get a better look. Due to the position of the sun and it's position, I couldn't get a good view, but I did get a flash of yellow/green on it's tail so think it was a goldcrest or firecrest.
It' the first time I've ever seen these small beautiful birds so it was such a joy. A few moments later, I looked up and caught site of a stunning red kite flying directly above me. It took me by surprise as it was so close.
House sparrows can be seen all year around but this month we tend to see more than normal as they start to find nesting spots and partners. However a really interesting fact which was shared was how whilst the male and female sparrow have different markings.
For House Sparrows, a male's place in the hierarchy is spelled out by the size of the patch of black feathers on his chest
At this time of year, it is great to spot migratory birds around London, like redwings, fieldfare, and if visiting the Barnes wetlands center in particular, then ducks, such as wigeon, gadwall and our smallest duck in the Uk, the teal.
If you are really lucky, some people have seen short-eared owls around London this time of the year too.
4. General discussion
Red kites - this has been a story given how in the 1990s they protected and therefore a conseration project was put in place which saw Spanish and Welsh birds being reintroduced into the Chilterns along the Oxford and Buckinghamshire border.
Territory and defensive behaviour - Different birds can be very territorial such as robins and house sparrows, drake mallards.
Robins are one of only a few bird species that hold their territory all year round... They will violently attack a stuffed robin which has been left in its territory, pecking it vociferously and flapping wings vigorously against it.
Long- tailed tits and family ties - They can often be found in small flocks which consist of extended family members. But their closeness isn't only to keep warm and reduce the chances of being predated (safety in numbers!). It has been observed that if some pairs lose their own nest, the family will help the young of others.
Moorhen - Laura Bacon shared a really interesting observation when recently visiting the Barnes WWT. She noticed an adult moorhen with a yellow rather than red bill
Adult moorhens have a distinctive red bill with a yellow tip.
Laura Bacon observed an adult moorhen with a completely yellow bill.
This led us to discussing how mutations in animals, how they could be a disadvantage, leading to death or as with this moorhen, how they can live amongst others. However, we assume it could lead to things such as lower success at finding a mate and producing offspring.
For example, there was a king penguin spotted in South Georgia which is thought to have leucism: “Albino means that all melanin production is gone, whereas leucism means that there is still some melanin production.”
...paler penguins are more likely to be eaten by leopard seals or killer whales in the Antarctic - National Geographic
Additionally, we spoke about N American cardinals which are found to be yellow and also red. It had initially been thought that they were two distinct species, however, they are in fact the same species.
Scientists have identified the gene that allows birds, such as the cardinal, to make red feathers. Rare yellow cardinals with defects in the production of red coloration are sometimes seen in the wild.
Before wrapping up, we spoke about the idea of a regular nature book club as well as possibly arranging some in person meetings and possibly nature based games so watch this space!!
Hedgehog project - https://ealingwildlifegroup.com/projects/hedgehogs/
Various bird species - https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/
Long-tailed tits - https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/news/long-tailed-tits-the-ties-that-bind