Thursday, 21 May 2015

Breeding Bird Survey

2015 is my tenth year of taking part in the BTO Breeding Bird Survey (BBS).  My 1km square is NY8274, halfway between Simonburn and Stonehaugh on the edge of the Wark Forest.  It contains mostly rough grassland and bog and there are no trees or shrubs.  One  farm track, one stone wall and a couple of stone sheepfolds are the only distinguishing features.  You can see in the map which are the boggy bits (most!).

The survey requires two visits a year to count the birds, one in May and one in June.  I start at 0700 and walk the first 1 km transect north to south, recording all the birds seen either side of the transect in 5 sectors as shown below.  Then I walk the second transect south to north.  And then it is time for coffee and a bacon sandwich.

These photos show the terrain.  At first glance you might not expect there to be any birds.

This is the wall.

This is one of the sheepfolds.

This is the "stone circle" marked on the map.  It's not quite Stonehenge.  I wonder who built it, and when, and why.

The average count is 8 or 9 species, about half the number I would see at home in the same time.  However, the commonest bird here is a skylark, followed by meadow pipit and curlew so the birds are very different from those I see at home.  Less common sightings have been stonechat, reed bunting, red grouse, grasshopper warbler, snipe and peregrine.  The survey also allows recordings of mammals.  I rarely see any but this time did record a brown hare.

The survey is of birds not nests or eggs so I don't look for nests but I do very occasionally stumble across one.  This is a meadow pipit nest to show how well concealed it is, followed by two set of meadow pit eggs to show the colour variation.

The one time I found a curlew nest was by almost treading on the sitting curlew and I didn't have a camera.  Not a mistake I'll make again.

It is interesting to visit the same patch at the same time of year and my small amount of data contribute to the survey. Last year over 2800 volunteers submitted data from around 3600 1km squares to the BBS.  Read more about the BBS here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks... I have always wondered how this all came together.