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Local Focus

The first item in this occassional series focuses on the protection of species rare to a corner of the UK. There is a page on the county of Kent, UK on fatbirder where you can follow links to many websites of interest to birders - we welcome the submission of such local reports from anywhere in the world.

Marsh warblers in Kent…Perry Haines is a new RSPB Species Protection Officer for marsh warblers at South Foreland. This Schedule 1 species has its British stronghold in Kent, where 24 singing males were found last year. Sadly, egg thieves threaten the birds' success, but Perry is determined to prevent their criminal activities. He has the enthusiastic support of local birders, and particularly our South East Kent Local Group, which has provided money and manpower over several years to look after the warblers and the site.Kent Ornithological Society - Perry is a member of the Executive Committee - is also organising a survey of marsh warblers this summer. About 15 observers have licences from English Nature to use tape players in this work. Reports from other people, to the KOS Recorders or Perry and Simon Busuttil at Dungeness, will be most welcome, and for other counties too. Identifying breeding areas will enable us to seek their protection, and to work towards the creation of similar habitat elsewhere.Marsh warblers like tall dense herbaceous vegetation, often willowherbs, meadowsweet and nettles, with scattered scrub and trees. The song is what makes these inconspicuous birds special, loud, rich, varied and full of mimicry. Males sing on arrival in late May and June, but may not do so for long, stopping while the female is nest-building and incubating. In Kent favoured areas occur between Romney Marsh and Thanet and in the Stour and Medway valleys. Similar places elsewhere are worth studying and there is a real chance of finding new sites.Some potential survey areas may be out of bounds through Foot and Mouth - please make sure that access is permitted. Respect the special status of this rare species; disturbance at breeding sites is an offence. Keep your findings confidential, except from the appropriate recorders.FirecrestsKOS is also looking for firecrests this summer, about 20 people with access permits covering suitable forests. Most birds have been found where there are Douglas Fir, Norway Spruce, or Western Hemlock planted more than 35 years ago. Any information on territorial firecrests this year would be welcomed by andrew.henderson@care4free.net. No doubt other county recorders will be pleased to have records. The same precautions apply to this Schedule 1 species as to marsh warblers.The above submission is the bread and butter of local level birding, protection scarce birds from disturbance or deliberate persecution.

Fatbirder welcomes news of other local level initiatives from anywhere in the world.

4th July 2014