Birds in and around a Miscanthus Plantation
Farmland bird populations have been declining for decades as a result of farming practices (large monocultures of food crops, use of insecticides and herbicides) and more recently climate change. Perennial biomass crops such as willow and miscanthus could potentially help reverse this trend by providing feeding opportunities, roosting habitats and wildlife corridors. There are many scientific journal articles that cover this subject in depth. However, the evidence of the potential benefits has as yet not been sufficient for biomass crops to be embraced as a solution by environmental and conservation bodies. Similarly, policy makers have so far not incorporated these crops as a feature in Sustainable Farming schemes. As part of the Biomass Connect project, we have produced two short films looking at birds in and around willow and Miscanthus crops in Devon and Somerset. The films feature ornithologist and wildlife detective Ed Drewitt (along with BC team member Kevin Lindegaard of Crops for Energy) and were filmed in mid-November with a dawn and dusk survey at each site. A short report showing all the birds encountered at each site has also been produced. The films and report indicate that these crops are being used by a wide range of bird species both for feeding and roosting. The plan is to return to these sites in the spring and summer of 2024 to see what birds are using the crops at these times.