2 Jul 2024

Feathers and Fledglings: A Nesting Season at the Botanic Garden

Ellyn Baker

Today, as part of Wales Nature Week, we celebrate the diverse birdlife of the Botanic Garden.

The breeding season has now mostly concluded for the nesting birds at the Garden. The Canada Geese goslings are nearly fully feathered, and many fluffy fledglings are still being fed by their parents. The Garden hosts a variety of bird species, including Mallards around the lakes, Swifts and Swallows near the buildings, House Sparrows within the Great Glasshouse, and Robins, Blackbirds, and other avian wonders utilising the diverse habitats here to raise their young.

This year, we have made efforts to monitor and record the breeding success of some of these birds as part of the BTO Nest Recording Scheme. Nests are visited regularly throughout the season to gather vital information on the breeding success and outcomes, such as how many eggs are laid, and chick survival rates. This information contributes to a long-term data set from across the UK which can be used to investigate important questions, such as the impact of climate change on breeding times and behaviours, and the varying success rates among different species.

In addition to monitoring the nest, the chicks can be ringed under license, which involves attaching a metal ring with a unique number to their legs. This allows for the identification of individual birds if they are recaptured in the future, providing valuable information on the dispersal and migration patterns of certain species. This comprehensive data enhances our understanding of bird ecology and populations, and how they are affected by contemporary threats, such as climate change and habitat loss.

At the Botanic Garden, our nest boxes are primarily occupied by Blue Tits and Great Tits, reflecting their population increase over recent decades. Of the 13 monitored boxes, 9 pairs successfully fledged chicks. This data will contribute to the broader understanding of bird populations and their changing dynamics.

With special thanks to Teifi Ringing Group for training and equipment.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales is supported by Welsh Government’s Nature Networks Fund, funding work to deliver infrastructure improvements on Waun Las NNR, allowing us to manage the site for improved biodiversity and engage with visitors on our natural heritage.