A NUMBER of baby birds have been saved from shredding as part of a forestry operation thanks to the quick thinking action of a leading wildlife photographer and Powys resident.

Garth Coppice is a 38-acre mixed woodland and wildlife habitat around one mile from LLansantffraid-ym-Mechain and is home to several buzzards, owls and goshawks as well as bats and other animals.

Felling operations had been commenced by forestry company Tilhill Forestry despite such felling activity being contrary to best practice in relation to the bird breeding and nesting season according to guidance issued by trade body The Arboricultural Association.

This is the second time in eighteen months that Tilhill Forestry has run into problems in North and Mid Wales with felling operations due to resident wildlife. In July 2018 Tilhill was forced to halt operations at a woodland near Mynydd Bodafon on Anglesey, a well known Red Squirrel habitat.

Garth Coppice and the adjoining Ty Issa woodland are owned by the Beauclerk Estate and managed by local firm Bowen Sons & Watson and felling had commenced when leading wildlife photographer Ellie Rothnie, who lives adjacent to the woodland, alerted Tilhill Forestry to the presence of breeding buzzards, owls and numerous other bird species.

Goshawks are a Schedule One Species according to the RSPB and are subject to strict rules around having their habitat disturbed.

Tilhill ceased operations, which took place in late March, within one hour of being alerted and the woodland has been granted a reprieve from clear felling until September which is recognised as the end of the bird breeding season.

Garth Coppice is a wildlife oasis in an environment dominated by agricultural land and it has many ancient woodland indicators including carpets of bluebells. It is home to bats, buzzards, badgers, sparrowhawks, goshawks, early purple orchids and bluebells. It also support numerous wildflower species. And it faces destruction through clear felling later this year.

Ellie Rothnie said: “When we spoke to Tilhill it was clear their pre-felling assessment was absolutely minimal and comprised walking through the woodland for less than one hour, once in November when there are no nesting birds and the other was a cursory pre-felling inspection in March. This was done by Tilhill staff with day training only and qualified ornithologists and ecologists were not used.

“This is totally unacceptable given bird breeding and nesting season has started and we are calling on Tilhill and the land agent and owner to permanently cease clear felling.”