Are Marsh Tree Sparrows being affected by rising costs of domestic Fuels and the current economic downturn?

10th February 2011, Thursday

I continue to monitor bird populations of the Romney Marsh and pay specific attention to a number of species that still have viable breeding populations on the Romney Marsh where in other areas some of these species are noticably decreasing. Tree Sparrows  have always been a feature of the Romney Marsh with pockets of breeding  birds using the lines of willow hedgerow  and established willow trees as breeding habitat but in recent years continued flailing of the these hedges has resulted in some of them becoming fragemented or even disappearing. The practice of flailing has recently become more aggressive giving little or no chance for the hedge to recover, however most recently, I have observed a new activity and that is the removal of  both large  and small limbs from established willow trees for free wood burning fuel.

Driving  through the network of lanes on the Romney Marsh there are numerous piles of sawdust along the roadside this I believe is a result  of individuals gathering free wood burning materials either for personal use or to sell on. The rate at which the practice seems to have gathered momentum could have serious implications for the sustainability of the Romney Marsh Tree Sparrow population.