Volunteers sought to improve wildlife habitats

7th Feb 2011

British Waterways is looking for volunteers to help install and maintain bird boxes at Stewponey near Kinver on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal.

The activity, taking place between 10am and 12pm on Saturday 19th February, will be led by a British Waterways ecologist who will show participants how to maintain existing bird boxes as well as how to locate and install new boxes. The event coincides with National Nest Box Week (14th – 21st Feb) which is organised each year by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).

Canals and rivers provide excellent habitat and breeding spots for a wide range of wildlife, including some protected species, but with many natural nesting sites on the decline there is a danger that birds will move to other areas. It’s hoped that the boxes will provide homes for species such as Willow Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Tree Sparrow, although the more common Great tit, Blue tit and Wren are very welcome too.

As well as installing new boxes the volunteers will also be carrying out the important task of cleaning out the existing ones to remove any parasites and build-up of debris ready for the breeding season.

Pest control

While they’re at it the volunteers will also be helping to install boxes to attract Soprano Pipistrelle and the Daubenton’s Bats. Bats are very important species for their control of pest insects and may even play a role in the control of diseases that are spread by midges and mosquitoes. Frequently birds and bats try to nest in the same boxes so by providing different types of box the volunteers will help to ensure that both can happily live alongside each other.

British Waterways ecologist Paul Wilkinson said; “Unfortunately the natural nest sites which many of our bird species depend on are fast disappearing but activities such as the Stewponey event will provide a timely boost ahead of the nesting season.

“Birds are very territorial when it comes to nesting and it would be a real shame if they were driven away due to a lack of safe, warm places in which to lay their eggs. By installing these boxes we’ll be able to maintain, and hopefully improve, the diversity of bird species that people can see by the canal”.

Booking is essential and anyone wishing to participate can do so by contacting Paul Wilkinson on 01827 252000 or paul.wilkinson@britishwaterways.co.uk

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