Bird communities of scarce forest habitats within spruce plantations in Kielder Forest
The aim of this study was to document the bird communities of six 'scarce forest habitats' in an upland spruce forest (Kielder, in Northumberland) and to compare them to the bird communities that were associated with its conifer plantations. Features of the scarce forest habitats considered to be important to their bird communities were investigated. The implications of these findings for future forest management are discussed, particularly in relation to the contributions these habitats make to the overall diversity of forest avifauna. Up to 76 study plots were selected randomly from six scarce forest habitat types; broad-leaved woodland, mixed broad-leafed/conifer woodland, windthrown conifer stands, streams with unplanted riparian strips, unplanted land and streams with broad-leaved riparian strips. Five-minute point counts, with up to 60 m radius, were used to estimate the relative abundance of species. Counts were carried out between 1992 and 1994, in winter (November to December), early spring (April to mid May) and late spring (mid May to mid June). Each study plot was visited once in each of these seasons, under similar weather conditions. There were few widespread species amongst the different habitats, only the chaffinch Fringilla coelebs was recorded consistently in more than 50% of spring plots. The commonest species in the scarce forest habitats were the same as those found in the adjacent conifer plantations. The majority of the species recorded occurred in a small proportion of plots such that variation in their numbers could not be analysed statistically. However, these less abundant species were classified arbitrarily into two groups, 'uncommon' species (occurring in only 3-10 plots in any one season) and 'occasional' species (occurring in only 1-2 plots in any one season). Unplanted riparian strips held greater numbers of these species during the spring than did the other scarce forest habitats.