I wandered through the woods with soft and gentle steps,
Listening to the sounds, as close to nature as it gets.
The wind was getting up and the trees began to dance,
Then I felt a chill run through me, as I saw it just by chance!
A tiny little alien lying on the ground,
I bent to pick it up but then I heard the sound!
A whirring and a stirring with lights that moved in time,
This uncanny happening was here and was all mine.
I couldn’t take it in, this vision that I saw –
A tiny space craft landed and opened up it’s door!
I tried to hide away, hold my breath and keep my cool.
And if you have read this far you’re an April fool!
Jean K Cave 2018
40th Anniversary Ceilidh at Calverton
We had a really good turn out despite the blizzard! Funds are looking good at over £700 so far to the local branch of the NSPCC but a more definite total will be given at a later date.
Thank you to all but particularly to Simon and Jane Carter, Jon and April Wood, Sue and Lynne and especially to the wonderful ceilidh band Sheepish Grin, namely Richard Mecia, Colin Houghton and John Crawford who gave a wonderful evening of entertainment for no fee.
A tremendous time was had by all – raising more money for our local NSPCC.
Greenfinch by John Harding
Disease and Hygiene of Garden Birds
A collaboration of scientists from British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have very recently published a paper entitled “Health hazards to wild birds and risk factors associated with anthropogenic food provisioning” You may have seen or heard about this on the news recently. Basically what this means is that there are possible health hazards to wild birds when they are fed by human beings.
Many people enjoy feeding garden birds, and we know that birds benefit from the food that is given to them, especially in the cold winter months. However scientists are agreed that wild birds are at risk of a number of serious diseases at our garden bird feeders. It is at these feeding stations that lots of birds congregate and this has the potential to spread disease amongst our avian friends. Some birds are particularly susceptible to certain diseases especially sociable birds like House Sparrows and Greenfinches. Birds which are affected by disease can contaminate feeders and bird baths through saliva or droppings, and poor hygiene at the feeding areas exacerbates the problem.
One of the main diseases which affect some garden birds is Trichomonosis which is a parasitic disease. This disease is responsible for the recent drastic decline of Greenfinches. Chaffinches and Collared Doves are also among the birds particularly susceptible to the disease, although it has been reported in numerous species. The symptoms are fluffed up feathers, an obvious difficulty in feeding and/or drinking, and lethargy. Sometimes it is very easy to approach sickly birds. The disease affects the throat and gullet and the bird eventually dies of starvation as it is unable to eat. Although highly contagious between birds, it does not affect humans.
Another serious disease is Avian Pox and this is a virus which affects Dunnocks, House Sparrows, Woodpigeons and tit species, especially the Great Tit. The condition creates warty or tumour-like growths on featherless areas of the bird, i.e. around the eyes, base of bill and legs and feet. The growths can become quite large and if near the eyes can impede the sight of the bird which makes them vulnerable to predation.
Salmonellosis is caused by the Salmonella bacteria and affects sociable birds such as Greenfinches and House Sparrows. As the symptoms are also lethargy and fluffed up feathers, diagnosis can only be proved after a post mortem of the diseased bird.
Another disease which I have seen especially in Chaffinches is Papillomavirus. This disease causes grey scab-like growths on the toes, foot and up the leg. This is not necessarily a deadly disease and some birds can live with it although they may become lame or lose the affected area.
As a result of the above, it is vitally important that we maintain good hygiene at bird tables, bird baths and feeders. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of disease spreading amongst wild birds in your garden:
- Offer a variety of food from accredited sources.
- Put out food in moderation, preferably one to two day’s supply.
- Regularly clean and disinfect feeders, bird tables and birdbaths with either a weak solution of domestic bleach or a specially-designed commercial product. Rinse feeders thoroughly and air dry before use.
- Wear gloves when touching feeders and always wash your hands after, irrespective of whether you use gloves or not.
- If you use brushes to clean bird feeders, only use them for that purpose only.
- Avoid placing feeders under roosting areas to prevent contamination with droppings.
- Rotate positions of feeders if possible and /or spread your feeders around the garden.
If you spot an outbreak of disease in some birds visiting your garden and if the birds are able to obtain food from other sources, i.e.in the wider environment, then it may be prudent to cease feeding the birds for 1 -2 weeks.
If you wish to report finding dead garden birds or signs of disease in garden birds you can do so through www.gardenwildlifehealth.org It is important to report cases of diseased birds so they can build a picture of the issues affecting garden wildlife throughout the country.
Jean is a voluntary Ambassador for the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch scheme in Nottinghamshire. If you enjoy watching birds and other wildlife which visit your garden, Garden BirdWatch may be perfect for you. If you would like a free information pack about the scheme, contact Jean at email@example.com or visit www.bto.org/gbw