If you have followed our blogs over the years then you may have seen this mentioned before but of late we have had a spell of queries that prompted me to share this. Basically every year in late autumn (or early winter if you like!) we speak with people who are a bit puzzled as they have found a strange looking brown bird, often in unusual places like the centre of London. Over the last couple of weeks these queries have peaked.
So what is going on? Well at this time of year the UK is the chosen winter destination for thousands of woodcocks that have a summer home in Eastern Europe. After crossing the north sea they arrive on the east coast, many of them following obvious landmarks like rivers for example. One of our biggest rivers is the Thames and as these night flying migrants are following the river, many of them come to grief as a result of colliding with the many tall glass buildings across the capital, hence why the majority of people finding woodcocks are in London, many within a few hundred metres of the river. Unfortunately obstacles like buildings to a night flying bird with poor forward vision are a big hazard.
Thankfully not all the stories end in sadness, many of the kind people who find these stunned birds pick them up, seek help with local welfare groups or take the birds along to local open areas like a wood or park where this usually elusive bird would naturally be holed up during the daylight hours.
Recently we have also had a number of other reports of other species crashing into windows, I just spoke with a lady who had found a goldcrest on its back, encouragingly it was now standing up in the box she had popped it in and she intended to release it shortly. Our advice is to give the stunned bird a place to recover, a box or animal carrier, in a dark and quiet place for an hour or so, this usually helps them come round so they can then be released in the garden.
We also try to recommend that the windows where the bumps occur are made 'bird safe'! There is some discussion about what works best, we recommend bold transfers stuck to the outside of the glass. Have you tried this, has it worked for you, if so what shapes and colours did you use?
Please contact me. I'm a journalist for the national papers and Ian Webb, a London press officer for the RSPB said I should talk toyou about this. Possible interest from a national paper. email@example.com
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