Protect garden birds in the winter for a better spring

From natural pest control to education for children, garden birds offer a huge range of benefits for you and your garden. But winter is a challenging time for garden wildlife. Continuing to provide a reliable, well-supplemented food source is proven to encourage earlier laying in wild birds and produce more fledglings in the following spring.

Alongside this, continue disinfection routines will lower the chance of disease ruining your hard work. High-energy, high-fat foods like fat balls, peanuts and sunflower seeds will best benefit your visitors – particularly as some species need to eat a quarter of their body weight every day to survive the harsh weather. As the bird feeder is likely to be their main food source, use a high-power supplement like Vetark’s Sprinkle Support to really protect the birds that visit. The unique, symbiotic blend of probiotic, prebiotic and vitamins aids their resistance to disease over the cold months and maximizes breeding potential the following spring. A light sprinkle over the food is all that is needed to ensure your loyal visitors are protected throughout the year – and significantly benefitting you in the spring!

Don’t forget to thoroughly disinfect feeders and water sources throughout the colder months to ensure you keep bacteria to a minimum and protect young birds. Try Citrosan and Ark-Klens for fast, effective cleaning that won’t put birds off their food. Click here to shop the Wild Bird range

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Fluke Solve now available in 50g packets

We appreciate that ponds come in all different shapes and sizes. Parasites have no such appreciation. It is very likely that every owner knows the problems that can arise when they make themselves at home with your prized fish. To help you reduce the cost of treating your fish for parasites, we've brough out a new 50g size of the popular product Fluke-Solve.

It will sit alongside the 10g and 100g sachets in the range to give owners more flexibility on choosing the correct size for treatment without too much wasted product. To order Fluke-Solve 50g, visit Fluke-Solve or call us on 01962 844316.

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Badger Culling – are there more effective approaches?

An independent scientific assessment has found badger culling to be ineffective and failing of humaneness tests. Commissioned by the Government, it was found that the number of badgers killed was well below the target estimated to reduce the spread of TB in cattle.
1,771 animals were culled during the 6-week pilot scheme across Somerset and Gloucestershire with a potential 18% taking longer than 5 minutes to die – well above the 5% limit set by the expert panel. This assessment follows hot on the heels of the revision of number of herds infected by bovine TB due to an IT error, meaning the number of infected herds fell by 3.4% and a 13% reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered between September 2012 and September 2013. However, There is no doubt this infection is a serious concern for the country and preventing badger to cattle transmission is one way to reduce the issue, but it important to do so in a manner which is both humane and effective. 
The head of the British Veterinary Association stated, "It is important to remember that these culls were pilots precisely because the Government needed to test the humaneness, safety and efficacy of controlled shooting as a method of culling badgers.” The results of this assessment, when published, will enable the government and experts to determine the best course of action to limit bovine TB following the controversial trials. Based on the released figures we can hope that options other than culling will be re-examined during the discussions, including longer-term ways of protecting both cattle and badgers from the disease.  
Thirteen counties have adopted a badger vaccination program, another approach designed to reduce the number of badger to cattle TB transmissions by protecting the badgers from contracting the disease. Vetark’s director, Peter Scott, was involved in the first stage of the Hampshire and Isle of White Wildlife trust vaccinations over October last year to tackle the four highest risk reserves. The remaining reserves will be vaccinated over Spring 2014, although more funds are needed to complete the work; it is expected to last 5 years (the average badger lifespan) to ensure the area's badger population is immune.
For more information on the Hampshire Vaccination scheme, visit 

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Garden Wildlife Health

This is an exciting new initiative grown from the older Garden Bird Initiative and Froglife. its is driven by a team of consierable talent and seeks to define what problems are causing deaths in our wildlife.

Visit their website

on the site you can report dead or sick wildlife here


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Badger vaccination

Our vet Peter Scott has been involved helping Hampshire Wildlife Trusts badger vaccination program. This is hopefully going to be extended in a big way next year.

The Wildlife Trusts have made this short video to show what is involved.

Take me to the video

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Hampshire Wildlife Trust - Investors day

 As 'investors in wildlife' through the trust we were invited to a good day out at Testwood Lakes. This splendid 150 acre site is 10 years old, buiilt by Southern Water alongside an abstraction and pumping station it has a number of lakes. One large area is dedicated to wildlife and set up with scrapes, tern islands, a sand martin wall etc - no dogs allowed in this section!

We heard about the development of the site and had a guided tour. A brisk walk and a lunch.

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Sparrow hawks close to home

Interesting, the sparrow hawks have started killing in the garden again. Must be a 'food resource' issue. This kill was made 6ft from our kitchen door on the patio and plucking was underway at the top of the patio steps about 12 ft away.

Some info and links from Wikipedia:

Adult male Eurasian Sparrowhawks have bluish grey upperparts and orange-barred underparts; females and juveniles are brown above with brown barring below. The female is up to 25% larger than the male – one of the largest differences between the sexes in any bird species. 

Male Eurasian Sparrowhawks regularly kill birds weighing up to 40 g (1.4 oz) and sometimes up to 120 g (4.2 oz); females can tackle prey up to 500 g (18 oz) or more. The weight of food consumed by adult birds daily is estimated to be 40–50 g (1.4–1.8 oz) for males and 50–70 g (1.8–2.5 oz) for females. During one year, a pair of Eurasian Sparrowhawks could take 2,200 House Sparrows, 600 Common Blackbirds or 110 Wood Pigeons. Species that feed in the open, far from cover, or are conspicuous by their behaviour or coloration, are taken more often by Eurasian Sparrowhawks. For example, Great Tits and House Sparrows are vulnerable to attack. Eurasian Sparrowhawks may account for more than 50% of deaths in certain species, but the extent varies from area to area.

Males tend to take tits, finches, sparrows and buntings; females often take thrushes and starlings. Larger quarry (such as doves and magpies) may not die immediately but succumb during feather plucking and eating. More than 120 bird species have been recorded as prey and individual Eurasian Sparrowhawks may specialise in certain prey. The birds taken are usually adults or fledglings, though chicks in the nest and carrion are sometimes eaten.
Calcium is vital and captive sparrowhawks like other need Nutrobal when young, and Arkvits when mature.

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Disease outbreaks in wildlife

New papers in the Veterinary record

This week (August 18, 2012) sees two new reports in the Veterinary Record.

The first reporting adenovirus  affecting red squirrels in a reintroduction project. The is enteric adenovirus and there is considerable concern about testing prohgrams to ensure that this isn't distributed in release situations.

Disinfection of adenovirus is difficult with chemical disinfectants, efficient cleaning helps (with Ark-Klens) but killing it is difficult - bleaching is useful as chlorine is effective.

The other report is concerning the level of Chlamydiosis in british songbirds. This seems to be becoming more regularly isolated with 6 out of 10 suspected outbreaks testing positive. This really does mean that Ark-Klens has a place, it is very useful for cleansing table and is recommended against chlamydiosis.

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WildPro opens up!

The Wildlife Information Network, in association with Twycross Zoo, has made their brilliant and exhaustive digital encyclopaedia, WildPro freely available. This gives a huge amount of data on exotic species

WildPro can be found at

It has lots of detailed information on diseases and management of wildlife including, but not limited to:great apes, cervidae (deer), elephants, hedgehogs, raccoons, bears, rabbits,  waterfowl,  and ruminants.

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Wildlife Investors Day out at the Itchen Valley waterworks

A great day out with Hampshire Wildlife Trust

We enjoyed a fascinating tour of the water treatment system owned by Portsmouth Water, showing how safe water is produced. The site is a wonderful wildlife refuge close to Southampton Airport, the M3 and the River Itchen. Quiet because much of the operation is automatic so the staffing is low, the whole area is sensitively managed with wildlife very much in mind.

The water is initially pumped into an open storage reservoir which can hold up to 135 million litres. Water from the reservoir is then dosed with chemicals in the ‘clarification stage’ of the treatment process where most of the smaller particles ‘settle out’. Any remaining particles, as well as tastes, odours and other chemicals are removed in the ‘filtration stage’ before chlorine is added to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of the treated water leaving the works.

The old settlement lagoon is neck deep in vegetation and has one of Graham Roberst otter holts - in use!

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Identify wildlife

There is an interesting website being developed by the Open University to help people identify British Wildlife which they may have seen. You can upload pics etc.


iSpot is provided by The Open University as part of the OPAL project, which is funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.

Don't forget about the fanatastic site and associated magazine produced by the BBC at


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Hispaniolan solenodon

venomous animal severely threatened by dogs and cats

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust working witht he BBC have got some amazing footage of one of the worlds most unlikely and threatened species. The Hispaniolan Solenodon. This is the only mammal which can introduce venom via its teeth!

Have a look a: Durrell Hispaniolan Solenodon

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Wild bird care in the garden

A scientific look at large scale, do-it-yourself, wildlife management conference held on 4th May 2010

This was a really interesting symposium held at the Zoological Society of London, organised by UFAW it brought speakers together from UK, Canada and Australia. 

Darryl Jones from Oz was fascinating especially on some of the wider issues associated with bird feeding, and Spencer Greenwood reported on work in Prince Edward Island, Canada, Becki Lawson reported on Trichomonas here.

It gave many of the experts chance to speak face to face and I think that a lot of good stuff will come out of the meeting.

To learn more about the meeting and see abstracts (and possibly outcomes) go to the link below.

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Salmonellosis in garden birds

A review of Salmonella outbreaks in Scotland over 13 years from 1995-2008 in April 3rd 2010 Veterinary Record

This fascinating study showed some differences in birds affected by outbreaks of Salmonella in different parts of Scotland.

Over the whole country this is a disease of finches (greenfinches, chgaffinches, goldfinches and siskins) but in the south of Scotland house sparrows are also affected. Most outbreaks are during the winter months with greenfinches being affect worst in Jan/Feb.

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London Wetland Centre

Love London Recycled Sculpture Show

Get along to the WWT London Wetlands Centre at Barnes. they have the 'Love London Recycled Sculpture Show' going on until April. Some really clever scultures, plus one or two fairly odd ones.

There is also a new bat building to encourage the pipistrelles and Daubentons to roost on site, this somewhat controversial looking building perhaps was dictated more by the arts grant that paid for it than the conservation needs of the bats - but since they only come out when its dim light they probably won't mind!

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BTO 2009 survey encouraging

The BTO have operated a survey scheme looking at the same sites for several years to get a better assessement of bird numbers and breeding success. Although adult numbers of some species are down the juvenile count is up and productivity is up. Many species have suffered over the past two wet summers but productivity was much improved this year, with significant increases for 18 of the 25 species monitored. The real winners were some of the finch species, for which productivity was up by 70% or more!

Adult numbers
18 species showed a decline vs 2008 (this is a consequence of the previous two poor breeding seasons)
Significant decline for Robin, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Linnet
Lowest ever adult numbers for Blue Tit and Linnet
Significant increase only for Whitethroat and Bullfinch

Significant increases (vs 2008) for 18 species
Significant increases (vs long-term) for 15 species
Highest ever productivity for Reed Warbler and Chaffinch
Significant decrease only for Willow Tit (and lowest ever)

The BTO does a great job, support them!

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Rotavirus in red squirrels in Scotland

Interesting paper by Everest et al in Vet Record Oct 10, 2009

Reporting what is believed to be the first confirmed identifications of rotavirus in red squirrels. Its already been reported to be present in greys based on serology and this was a retrospective study looking at animals with enteropathies (diarrhoea and intussusception).

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Bat lyssavirus type 2 in a Daubentons bat in Scotland

EBLV-2 found in a dead adult female Daubentons found in Linlithgow. Harks back to the sad loss of a bat conservation worker in Scotland due to EBLV-2, this finding is the first report of live virus found in aa bat in Scotland.

Vet Rec 165, (13), 383, Sept 26, 2009

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