Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Crossbills and Conifers

I’ll start with conifers as I think they are more exciting. They cause quite a few problems in the world of conservation as they tend to be non native species such as Norway and Sitka spruce or Larch. Wales in covered in large blocks of this homogonous habitat which is harvested from time to time to supply us with our lovely pine furniture. It gets a lot of bad press as they don’t look as nice as broad leaved trees such as Oak and Beech (but not sycamore!!!) and they aren’t of the same value to Wildlife.  I remember when Blaenau Gwent Council was writing its Biodiversity action plan which is some every council in the UK has to do and I was trying quite hard to get a plan for coniferous woodland. Most of the more unusual species that are found in the county live in these woodlands. Siskin and Goldcrest breed in the larger trees, Redpolls in the smaller one plus Goshawks and in wider Wales even Honey Buzzard nest relatively successfully in them. When the trees are felled they them provide great habo for Nightjars. Another bird which is pretty fond of Conifers is the Crossbill.

Spent yesterday afternoon trying to get some pics of them at a local forest and came across quite a few. Crossbills have been quite a feature during the last week or so. I would expect most of them to be feeding chicks at present so any sign of nearby nest would have resulted in no photo’s as they are a schedule 1 species. The group I came across however was seemingly just a feeding party so a few snaps later I left them get on with scoffing their little silly beaks with seeds.

After my long walk this afternoon I was pleased to get a text suggesting a  few beers out at one my old local pub, the King. Its probably the only pub in Ebbw Vale that serves decent real ale and this is probably my all time favourite. The Reverend James!

from left to right, Gary, me and Richard enjoy a pint of 'rev'. Thought I'd better post this given that the landlord Paul went to the trouble of taking it.

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