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Bird group hopes Suffolk rook survey will help people 'connect with nature'

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 December 2018

Rook in flight    Pic: Steve Plume

Rook in flight Pic: Steve Plume

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A Suffolk birdwatching group is offering people the chance to have something to crow about - by taking part in a county-wide rook survey.

Rookery at Wortham  Pic: Ashley GoodingRookery at Wortham Pic: Ashley Gooding

A Suffolk birdwatching group is offering people the chance to have something to crow about – by taking part in a county-wide rook survey.

The Suffolk Ornithologists’ Group (SOG) is calling on individuals and organisations throughout the county to join in its census of the familiar species, recording online the locations of rookeries and the number of nests in each one.

It is hoped the two-year study, one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by the group in its nearly 50-year history, will accurately reveal Suffolk’s population of this characterful member of the crow family.

It is also hoped involvement in the citizen science survey will bring people closer to wildlife and inspire them to engage more with nature.

Rook by Ashley GoodingRook by Ashley Gooding

Golden opportunity

Deserving more than just a cursory look, the rook is an engaging and engrossing species that was first studied by SOG in 1975 when members carried out an exhaustive survey in the county as part of a national British Trust for Ornithology census of the species.

The group’s work culminated in the publication of a booklet - The Rook in Suffolk - which was a landmark publication for SOG that summarised members’ fieldwork, with a total of 15,850 nests in 929 rookeries being recorded.

Pic by Tim OakesPic by Tim Oakes

More than 40 years on, SOG is returning to the rook in a big way.

In what promises to be one of the group’s most extensive projects, the group is launching its own two-year rook survey to establish the species’ current Suffolk population and distribution.

The project is being seen as a golden opportunity to engage with members of the public – individuals, community organisations and especially young people via schools and Scouts and Guides groups – and to inspire them to become more connected with nature.

The survey has been enabled by funding from Suffolk resident Jenifer Bridges-Adams and is being established with support from the highly respected naturalist and conservationist Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, Fifth Earl of Cranbrook.

Enliven Suffolk landscapes

SOG chairman Gi Grieco said: “Rooks enliven Suffolk landscapes that are often bereft of much other wildlife. Our survey will enable people to really connect with nature, perhaps for their first time in a meaningful way, and to enjoy making a valuable contribution to a worthwhile study.

“Rookeries are easily monitored, as they are usually clustered in the crowns of trees and established early in the year before leaves make them difficult to observe.

SOG says the online survey will be “very user-friendly” and will be hosted by the Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service, allowing the location of each rookery to be recorded along with its number of nests. The webpage is due to go live at www.suffolkbis.org.uk/rookerysurvey from January 1, 2019.

Further information will also be available on SOG’s website www.sogonline.org.uk

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