4 May 2014

Millennium House Sparrows

Colin Miles

This Tuesday was one of those very rare wet days(!) so we took the opportunity to investigate the Great Glasshouse.  Of particular interest were the Sparrows as they have been the subject of a study to see how they are ‘evolving’ within this habitat.  This Millennium study also involved the two glasshouses established at the same time at the Eden project though we understand that they have pulled out.

Last year had seen the introduction of House Sparrow nest boxes.  But they were completely ignored and the Sparrows continued nesting in the cracks behind the ivy covered wall above the pool.  However, this year the ivy had been trimmed right back so that there was really no cover.  Would that deter them and persuade them to use the nest boxes? – no.  But at least we were able to see a little more clearly where they were nesting.

Recent research has found that insects are crucial to House Sparrow young.  So given their obvious success in the Great Glasshouse, the other question was, where are the insects?  Well, closer inspection of many of the plants showed the presence of Whitefly on the leaves as well as Midges over the pond. The Sparrows could also be seen picking what were probably Aphids out flowers.  They have also adapted their behaviour in so far as they now sip nectar.

But are they evolving and what will be the effects of in-breeding? Well, one of the Sparrows was noticeable for the white wing bar.  Indeed, at a cursory glance you might mistake it for a Chaffinch.

We were also interested to see whether the fungi that we found in the Autumn were still there though, as we soon realised, Spring is not the time for Fungi and there was no sign of the   .  However, we did find some Earth Stars. These turn brown and powdery when they dry and John demonstrated their puff-ball ability by popping one.

This time of year in the Great Glasshouse is the beginning of the blossoming of many flowers and shrubs.  A truly splendid time to visit it but one highlight which I won’t forget is the beautiful velvet feel of the leaves of the Succulent plant near the bridge.

If any volunteer or member is interested in joining us please send an email to Colin Miles – you DON’T have to be an expert in anything, just interested. If you click on any of the images in these blogs, or anywhere else you will see a larger picture. And if you click on the Wildlife Walks heading on the left-hand side under News you will see a list of the last 10 Wildlife Survey blogs.

If you find an injured bird, hedgehog or other wild animal and want help and advice then phone the Gower Bird hospital. on 01792 371630.