As well as providing homes for rescued and unwanted animals, we are also working hard to make Brockswood a safe haven for wildlife too.
Some of our sheep and goats naturally lose parts of their fleeces and coats, and as well as pieces of straw and hay that they may pick up around the sanctuary, these bits of wool and fur make excellent nesting material for birds. We don't let anything go to waste!
You will notice patches of Stinging Nettles on site - this is not careless gardening - Nettle patches harbour lots of insects and invertebrates that birds eat, and in late summer the huge amount of seeds produced are food for many seed-eating species!
We compost most of our animal bedding, food and other animal waste. Worms, slugs, insects and other invertebrates will feed on this, and in turn, birds visit to seek out these insects, worms, and seeds. Compost is not only good for the farm but the wildlife on it too!
As humans continue to build and take over more and more of the countryside, a rising number of birds are losing their own homes as a result. This major habitat loss means that food and water is harder for them to find, and it is becoming increasingly hard for them to breed and survive, resulting in losses in numbers and possibly somewhere down the line – complete extinction in some cases! Can you imagine a world without our cheery Robins? Or beautiful Owls?
We have allowed some parts of our site to stay as natural as possible, to encourage birds to come to. We have created various different habitats for them – ponds and boggy wetlands, fields, wooded areas, and we have scattered nest boxes around the site for them to use.
A habitat includes all four necessities for survival – food, water, shelter and nesting areas.
As well as keeping certain areas as natural as possible, to maintain and create habitats for wild birds and other animals to use, we have also created many nesting areas for them around the sanctuary. The natural nest sites on which many of our wild bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, are fast disappearing as trees are cut down in gardens and woods, and old buildings are repaired (or in most cases, demolished).
Therefore providing adequate nesting areas for birds is extremely important to us in order to ensure that our wild birds can thrive and increase in numbers, in a time when we are seeing a great decline in many of our native species.
If you look carefully, you will notice lots of different sized nesting boxes around the site! Keep your eyes peeled, we have already had success with birds nesting and breeding in our boxes! Please try to ensure that you don't disturb any of these boxes, and of course, please do let us know if you see any of them being used during your visit!
Over 60 species are known to have used nest boxes. Regular residents include:
Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Nuthatches, House and Tree Sparrows, Starlings, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Robins, House martins, Kestrels and Tawny Owls!
We are currently in the first stages of this project and hope to take it further in the future. Currently we are experimenting with different types of boxes spread throughout the various natural habitats we have. Different areas, trees, already established species in these areas, and many other environmental factors will affect which birds use which boxes, if at all!
Once we have a better idea of the areas that different birds prefer and why, we can build upon this and improve these areas for them.
You will notice that most of these boxes have numbers of letters on them. All of these boxes have a unique identification code, so that we can record any activity that we or YOU witness there!
Bird Sightings at Brockswood
So far we have been lucky to see...
Barn Owl (Tyto alba), Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), Carrion Crow (Corvus corone), Coal Tit (Periparus ater), Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), Common Gull (Larus canus), Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Common House Martin (Delichon urbicum), Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus), Dunnock (Prunella modularis), Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica), Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris), Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), European Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis), European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris), European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus), European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domestica), Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), Great black-backed Gull (Larus marinus), Great Tit (Parus major), Greater Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), Jackdaw (Corvus monedula), Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Little Owl (Athene noctua), Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus), Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus), Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Redwing (Turdus iliacus), Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos), Tawny Owl (Strix aluco), Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Mammal Sightings at Brockswood
So far we have been lucky to see...
Badger (Meles meles), Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus), European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Field Vole (Microtus agrestis), Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Reeves's Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi), Stoat (Mustela erminea), Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)
We also have many (so far) unidentified Bats.
Adina, our fantastic Conservation Intern has recently completed work on building a large bug hotel for our resident insects, and now the only thing left is to give it a name. So we thought we’d make it a competition! Send in your name suggestions for our bug hotel, be as creative as you like, and the lucky winner will receive a complimentary Family Pass to the sanctuary! This is a day pass for up to five people.
Why not have a go at making your own bug hotel? See our guide in the link below. Send in a picture of any interesting minibeasts you find and your photos could be featured in our upcoming wildlife gallery! Please include your full name, and if you’d like to practice your identification skills, the species of insect you have found.
Did you know? The UK is home to a remarkable 24,000-plus species of insects, with more joining the list on a regular basis, including previously undiscovered species that have been living here already, newly arrived ones from continental Europe undergoing natural range expansion, or accidentally introduced species. We can't wait to see how many species might move into our spacious hotel!