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The Barbican Nature Count

Jill Smith reports on the diversity of nature within the Barbican as part of a national survey conducted by the RSPB in June.

Promotional material from the RSPB “Make your nature count” survey

From the RSPPB website –


he results of the 2011 RSPB national survey are in! Thanks to everyone who told us about the wildlife they see in their

gardens. People in every UK county took part, with results coming in from Shetland to the Channel Islands, and from over 50,000 gardens.

Here’s what we discovered from your results.

Baby boom

Garden bird chicks had a good summer. Almost half of UK gardens surveyed had baby blackbirds during June. This is a 15 per cent increase on 2010. Almost a quarter of gardens had robin chicks, an increase of over a quarter since last year. Young song thrushes were seen in five per cent of UK gardens, an increase of almost 10 per cent since 2010. This is good news because song thrushes have suffered massive declines in the past. They have a long way to go before they're back to where they used to be.

Experts believe the high numbers of young blackbirds, robins and song thrushes around the UK could be because the weather conditions were right, both when the chicks were in the nest and when they fledged. It was a good summer for some adult birds, too. The number of house sparrows recorded increased by almost 20 per cent since last year, although the long term trend is still downward. Blue tit reports went up by almost a quarter and chaffinch numbers rose by almost 30 per cent from last year’s survey.

Bats, beetles and snakes We asked you to report bats, stag beetles and grass snakes for the first time this year.

Almost half of the participants 20

said they see bats in their gardens, and 33 per cent see them regularly. The results showed that bats are twice as likely in rural gardens as urban ones, and wildlife-friendly gardens with plenty of shrubs and trees are more likely to attract bats than those without.

Nearly one in 50 participants reported seeing grass snakes regularly. Grass snakes are around 11 times more likely in rural gardens than urban ones.

Just over one in 50 see stag beetles regularly, mostly in the South East of England where in some areas as many as 18 per cent reported them.

Counting croaks We asked everyone to record frogs and toads. Frogs were seen regularly in a third of gardens, and toads in 14 per cent. There was a decline in sightings of both species since they were surveyed two years ago. Toads were twice as likely to occur in rural gardens as urban ones but frogs are almost evenly spread across both types of garden.

Power to the ponds Ponds are fantastic for many kinds of wildlife, as the results from this year’s survey prove. Pond owners are twice as likely to have grass snakes and toads, three times more likely to have frogs and eight times more likely to have great crested newts. In some cases it may be that ponds simply make these animals more likely to be noticed. But Mark

Eaton, the RSPB scientist who analysed the results, said 'There's no doubt that wildlife-friendly areas have an impact on the creatures that visit your garden, and things like ponds, water features and long grass are great assets and will help attract all kind of wild visitors.'

Results from the Barbican from June this year The Nature Count as observed in the Barbican by Jill Smith and other participants, from the Barbican Horticultural Society and neighbours in the Barbican, including Peggy Buchanan, Wenda Sturrock, Fiona Savory, Nancy and Geoff Chessum, Sylvia Turtle, Chris Parkin, and Tim Macer, neighbours as observed over two weeks in June was as follows:

On the Barbican Lakes: ■ 33 Mallard Drakes (1 of them an Aylesbury cross) ■ 3 Mallard Ducks (one is an Aylesbury Cross) ■ 5 Mallard Ducklings (mother is an Aylesbury cross) Mother went away when 2 weeks old and they have survived brought up themselves now for 2 and a half weeks. ■ 9 more Ducklings arrived this weekend 7 have survived. ■ A pair of Teal Ducks. ■ 1 Male Tufted Duck was living on the lake for 2 weeks and left 1 week ago ■ 8 Moorhens, with babies, still in the Reeds in the nest, heard but not seen.

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