Now that the breeding season is coming to a close it seems a good time to pause to reflect on the year so far. And what a year! This has been the most successful breeding season I have experienced since starting to work here with ten chicks over two nests. With so many around it’s been hard to keep track on the exact numbers but it seems likely that perhaps eight survived to become fully-fledged. This is in contrast with three last year.
It would seem clear to anybody, I would imagine, that more than doubling the amount of young sparrowhawks from last year would seem a success, but when it comes to conservation, what really constitutes the distinction between success and failure? Actions to promote biodiversity are integral to the achievement of the Aichi biodiversity targets, and it is these targets and other well defined concrete goals such as those contained in Local Biodiversity Action Plans which give the strategic direction to activites. However I think it is also necessary to recognise the achievements and progress already made. Goals have been adopted based on SMART principals and certainly numbers of fully-fledged sparrowhawks are measurable and a useful yardstick to go by.
Could this just be a blip though, a bumper year in an otherwise downward trend? Only time will tell. The real test is longevity and sustaining the sparrowhawk population at a healthy level requires maintaining the activities over the long run ensuring that they continue to work towards the end goal which is provided by the overarching strategy. To get to where we are today has involved a number of different collaborative parties including many within the RBGE such as Martyn Dickson and the arboricultural team, and our science communicator Max Coleman. RSPB were involved and for a while highlighted the Botanics sparrowhawks through their “Date with Nature” campaign. Hugh and Laura Coventry and the team who came to ring the sparrowhawks have been on hand to provide their expertise. Visitor welcome team members like myself were also on hand to liase between different collaborators and explain things to the public face-to-face.
As we all have progressed issues have come up and in most cases solutions have been identified and on the whole the sparrowhawks have thrived, primarily through sensitive management of their habitat. This to me is also a measure of success, although perhaps unquantifiable, that humans and wild creatures have been able to maintain harmonious relationships with each other and mutually benefitted.