Join the Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend

Bowdleflode News No. 33 – February 2021
As we face more time at home this year WHAT can you see from your window?

From January 29—31 twitchers (bird-watchers) can take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, the world’s largest wildlife survey.  Wildlife watchers are invited to spend an hour each day taking a note of the birds visiting their garden and outdoor spaces and to submit notes, photos or footage online.  Last year an impressive 7,200 people contributed to the project.

House sparrows were the most spotted bird in Oxfordshire in 2020 – despite the fact that they are in national decline – followed by blue tits and starlings.  Blue tits are common, thanks to people putting out food and putting up nesting boxes.  They are on the rise nationwide. Other birds in the top 10 in 2020 were goldfinches and long-tailed tits.

For many people, garden birds provide a vital connection to the wider world and bring a lot of joy.  Lockdown brought few benefits, but the last year has either started or reignited a love of nature for many.  By taking part in the Birdwatch you are helping to build an annual snapshot of how birdlife is doing across the UK.  The data collected by the survey aims to show how they have fared since the project started more than 40 years ago.

New species at Marwell Zoo 

Marwell Zoo in Hampshire recently welcomed a group of bantengs to the zoo! Keepers report that Dewi, Anisa, Jin and Henky are settling in well.

These fascinating herbivores are found throughout the tropical forests of Southeast Asia.  They are often mistaken for domestic cattle because they’re very similar in size and in their general impression.  In fact they are everything domestic cattle aren’t!

Banteng are one of the few remaining species of totally wild bovids in the world.  The behaviour of the banteng is unique because they spend the majority of their time in dense remote forests.  They emerge at night and in the early morning, to forage on grasses growing at the edge of the forest or in glades. They are incredibly elusive and very rarely sighted.  Classed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, there are thought to be less than 8,000 left in the wild.

The Mangrove Miracle

Mangrove swamp from the air

It’s no secret that the forests of the world have been under pressure from human activities for some time now. We tend to only think of tropical forests, like the Amazon, as bearing the brunt of the impacts of deforestation and other drivers of forest clearance. But there is another forest type that has been subject to more degradation and destruction than any forest type on Earth over the last 50 years: mangrove forests.

Flooded mangrove swamp

These extraordinary life forms are responsible for protecting coastlines, harbouring monkeys, safeguarding reefs, providing nurseries, supporting communities and deterring human-induced climate chaos at a rate better than any other tree. The silent superheroes of the natural world, if you will. Alongside all of this, the mangrove ecosystem also stores a huge amount of carbon, and are incredibly efficient at doing it too – absorbing and storing carbon at up to 10 times the rate of any other forest.
Since 1980 alone more than 20% of the world’s mangrove forests have been cleared, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Less than half the Earth’s original mangrove forest cover remains. A staggering fact considering the benefits and vital role they play.

Mangrove roots

It’s only with the amazing work from organisations such as Fauna & Flora International (FFI) that these ecosystems might stand a chance. The FFI have pledged with partners to protect and restore mangroves by buying land under threat of clearance for tourism development or fruit plantation expansion. The protection and restoration of mangroves is critical to the fight against climate change, as well as central to ensuring local communities are protected from climate impacts. It’s clear if it continues the fallout could be detrimental to the future of billions of people, billions of animals – and of course our planet.

Bowdleflode of the Month



Created by MARGOT from Castle Hill Primary School, Chessington, UK

This month we shine our spotlight on Margot’s creation of MOBEAVERCAMPI!

MOBEAVERCAMPI has the head of a moose, body of a beaver and a tail like a fish. They have a diet of fish and fruits and are curious creatures!