Month: June 2021

Our AGM & new roles available

We are delighted to be getting back up and running with events and new projects as life slowly returns to normal.

As part of our requirements as a Community Group we must hold an Annual General Meeting.  This year the AGM will be on Zoom on Thurs 8th July at 7pm – and everyone is invited!

2020 held back many of the projects we would have liked to have made progress on, so now we need your help to move forward and gain momentum as a local conservation organisation harnessing the power of community and collaboration. 

The AGM will be looking at essentially who we are as an organisation, what we’ve been doing in the community and what we can achieve in the future.  It is also an opportunity for us to focus on specific projects and restructure our committee, including bringing on some new volunteer roles. 

New volunteer roles

I would love to build the EWG team, enabling us to grow and continue to do great work for wildlife and people in Ealing. We have two exciting new volunteer roles to join us as officers on the team.  If you are interested, please have a read of the following job specs and bring any questions along to the AGM – the closing date for applications is Fri 16th July.

Events Officers – there is more than one position available

Volunteer Officer

Ealing Wildlife Group Collage

Agenda

The AGM will be run on Zoom (details below). There are 100 spaces available and they are being allocated on a first come, first served basis. You do not have to sign up for the event, simply join the Zoom meeting on Thurs 8th July. The AGM will start at 7pm.

The agenda will be as follows:

  • 2020 review
  • Financial report
  • Board Structure and new roles
  • Aims for EWG as a Community Group going forward
  • Open Q&A

Please do join if you can so you can take part in the Q and A session afterwards.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sean and the EWG team

 Zoom details

Ealing Wildlife Group is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Ealing Wildlife Group AGM
Time: Jul 8, 2021 07:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82280218635?pwd=NlBLMFBqL0pvQS9SV0ZES2FKZVpWdz09

Harvest Mouse by Amy Lewis, The Wildlife Trusts

Design a t-shirt competition

Friend of EWG, Neera Sehgal, is running a ‘design a t-shirt’ competition to raise money for EWG. The winning entry will be printed onto a t-shirt and sold – with a percentage of the profits being donated to EWG.

Neera is the owner of Studio Inkineeri, a screen printing business based in Ealing. Neera has a little home setup print studio which she intends on using for more community based projects.

Neera has kindly raised funds for us in the past by making some wildlife screen prints and she’d love to help us again!

All the t-shirts she prints on are organic cotton GOTS accredited (fair trade) and she uses more environmentally friendly water-based inks. Neera will not make a profit from this competition, she’s simply doing it to give back to our community.

How to enter

Neera would love you to draw an image based on iconic Ealing wildlife – what species are you most excited by or proud of having in the borough?

Your submission should be simple, with clean lines and not too fussy (so it prints well).

Once you have completed your drawing, take a photo or scan your designs and send them to [email protected]

Please also send full name, age and contact details. If you are under 16, please provide your parent/guardian contact information.

Deadline for entry is 30th June so get cracking and you could see you artwork on an EWG t-shirt!

You can see Neera’s instagram here: neerscreenprints

Neera’s webpage and shop are here: https://inkineeri.co.uk/

‘Help an Ealing Owl’ project update

Back in 2018 EWG and the Council ranger team collaborated on a fundraising bid to erect owl nest boxes all over Ealing for Barn, Little and Tawny Owls, the three most common species found in and around London. Barn Owls were our main target species, as we knew the other two were already breeding here in relatively good numbers. But the Barn Owl situation was less clear. We’d spotted and had sightings reported of them hunting in various areas, but no confirmed breeding.

So we managed to secure £2000 from Tesco Bags of Help to try to help them become established. We bought about 18 nest boxes of various designs to attract all three species and later in 2019 got to putting them up all across the Borough in likely locations. And with the parks team, we set about changing some of the local grassland management to encourage more biodiverse rough grassland habitat, mown on a 3-4 year rotation to encourage voles, mice and shrews. Basically boosting our owls’ and other predators’ food supply! You can see more about the early stages of the project here:

Our 2020 owl breeding season kicked off with a promising start as trail cameras placed on several of our boxes revealed that they were being visited by owls, including some Barn Owls. Unfortunately, the box where we confirmed Barn Owls as regular visitors in January and February fell victim to theft and disturbance later that season. Some men with a ladder were reported to us looking suspicious. and alas our trail camera containing all of our footage was gone. We had left it well alone after our last check in February so as not to disturb the owls if they were breeding. But when we went back to check in May/June the camera and the owls were nowhere to be seen. A hazard of leaving wildlife cameras out in any location, but especially in the urban environment. All was not lost however, as a pair of Kestrels moved in and raised young in the same box. Not a target species, but very welcome nonetheless.

We believe a Little Owl pair attempted to breed in one of our boxes in 2020 but couldn’t confirm if they successfully fledged. Anyway, the pandemic and lockdown restrictions prevented us getting out to monitor and check our nest box success rates for much of the breeding season, but this project was always going to be a long game of providing nest sites, changing habitat dynamics and boosting prey availability. We were patiently impatient that the 2021 season would be better and yield success.

Below is some footage of various owl species visiting, and even scrapping for access to our nest boxes. This tells us that with such competition and defense of boxes, that natural nest sites suitable for owls are in short supply. It makes sense as old trees with large cavities are few and far between in urban environments in particular where human health and safety is a genuine concern to be balanced alongside nature conservation.

2021 saw lots of owl action at various boxes, with all three species investigating. One particularly feisty Little Owl pair commandeered a large Barn Owl box for themselves, fighting off Barn Owls and Tawnys that came to inspect it for their own uses as you can see here:

We’ve been out recently with local licensed bird ringer Phil Belman to check on our nest boxes under license and ring any chicks we found for ongoing population monitoring. And though we are a little disappointed to say we’ve not confirmed any Barn Owls breeding (although there is still one inaccessible box and camera left to check), we have had a great year for Little Owls with a total of 10 chicks from three of our boxes. We tend not to check Tawny Owl boxes too closely as they have a reputation for being aggressive at the nest site. We did find one very early Tawny chick that fledged from a natural nest site locally, you can see him/her in this video:

Hopefully next year the possibly young and inexperienced Barn Owls who have been prospecting for nest sites at our boxes will move in and raise their own chicks. We’ve increased our number of boxes in 2020-21 too, with some of our members kindly making and donating nest boxes to the cause. Thanks Peter Nolan, David Gordon Davy and the Sullivans for making some great boxes for us free of charge. And here’s hoping 2022 is a bumper year for Ealing owls!

In the meantime, enjoy some photos of the adorable Little Owl chicks we ringed recently. Thanks to BTO licensed bird ringer Phil Belman for collaborating with us on this important part of the project to monitor our owl populations and how habitat management is affecting them over time.

Little Owl chick with newly fitted ring and a unique ID number so we can monitor its survival and breeding success for years to come
Three Little Owls just fledged from a box at the base of the tree; if you find them like this just place them up into some hedging or tree branches safe from ground predators. They are learning to fly and scrabble about in the canopy.
Bringing the owl chicks down from the tree in a cotton bag for measurement and ringing
Three Little Owl chicks from one of the latest boxes we erected in February 2021! Success in its first season, along with another box too!
Three Little owl chicks in their (Barn Owl) nest box
Nearly fledged Little Owl
Adult Female Little Owl

Rewilding Ealing update: Harvest Mice are coming!

We have been busy behind the scenes scoping out the habitats, logistics and feasibility considerations for reintroducing Harvest Mice to Ealing. This tiny rodent species has declined significantly nationwide in recent decades, and we believe after much surveying in suitable habitats that it is locally extinct. For more context on Harvest Mice and the project you can watch our kick off meeting here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNbY6TtgJnA&t=13s

As with any reintroduction project, there are ethical and practical procedures and guidelines to follow so as not to:

  • cause harm to the local ecosystem
  • cause welfare issues with the reintroduced species or others in the local environment
  • cause socio-economic harm or concerns
  • introduce disease into natural ecosystems
Harvest Mouse by Amy Lewis, The Wildlife Trusts

We have reviewed DEFRA’s newly released codes and guidance for reintroductions and other conservation translocations. And we feel we have satisfied the requirements as well as carried out the appropriate surveying and preparations needed to justify and carry out a successful reintroduction programme. We’ve also consulted with previous Harvest Mouse reintroduction project managers and rewilding experts who advised us that we have the suitable, sustainable and connected habitat to bring back this lost species again. More info on the codes and guidance can be found here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/987068/reintroductions-conservation-translocations-code-and-guidance-england.pdf

So what’s next and where are our mice coming from? Well, we’ve teamed up with a zoo and country park in Scotland who maintain a large colony of harvest mice and want to collaborate with us on an in-situ reintroduction and conservation project for the species in their natural habitat. We’re also working with renowned rewilding advocate and expert, Derek Gow and his team, who are supplying us with captive bred mice for mass release and to start our own ongoing captive breeding programme.

And we cannot thank you, our supporters, enough for donating to fund the project by sponsoring a mouse (or many mice in some cases!). It’s a project which has obviously captured the public imagination, and it has also attracted some media attention (watch this space!). We hope to start releasing mice as early as July and September this year, and hope to have some of you along to see ‘your’ mice return to the wild. The crowdfunding was a great success, and is still open for donation to support ongoing costs of the project if you wish to sponsor a mouse for just £10.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ealingharvestmice

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