Surveys, patch watching, etc.

On Saturday I got up early and spent the whole morning finishing, or nearly finishing, my two surveys. Firstly I did my late visit for the BTO Breeding Bird Survey. The first thing I found as I got off the bus at Damflask were three great spotted woodpeckers, all in the same tree, which boded well for a good visit (in fact I saw or heard no fewer than 11 GSWs over the course of the day!).

As last time, the actual survey yielded very few surprises, but it was still a good walk, and it’s interesting to compare the results from both visits:

Species Early visit count Late visit count
Grey Heron 0 1
Mallard 10 2
Pheasant 13 2
Curlew 1 2
Stock Dove 0 2
Woodpigeon 14 11
Collared Dove 0 1
Swift 0 3
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 1
Swallow 4 0
Tree Pipit 1 0
Pied Wagtail 2 0
Wren 16 17
Dunnock 5 5
Robin 16 10
Blackbird 18 14
Song Thrush 3 1
Mistle Thrush 0 1
Garden Warbler 0 1
Chiffchaff 3 7
Willow Warbler 5 7
Goldcrest 1 5
Long-tailed Tit 3 4
Coal Tit 0 1
Blue Tit 15 10
Great Tit 15 4
Nuthatch 5 2
Treecreeper 0 5
Jay 0 1
Magpie 2 1
Jackdaw 7 8
Carrion Crow 13 7
Starling 1 0
Chaffinch 19 9
Goldfinch 10 5
Bullfinch 0 2
Greylag Goose (domestic) 0 3
Mallard (domestic) 7 3

 As you can see, seemingly big drops in numbers for some species, especially great tit and chaffinch, however this could be explained by a drop in amount of singing males, and therefore a drop in the number that came to my attention. (Mallards can be explained by the fact they must have swan to a different part of the reservoir that’s not on my route!)

After that was finished, it was a trek round SK28Z, my tetrad for the SBSG survey. A few added to the list, with confirmed breeding for coal tit, with a small flock of fledglings at Beacon Wood, a singing yellowhammer, and (finally!) a grey wagtail. Other highlights included more GSWs, a female whitethroat at Brookside, and a couple of pairs of linnet on Riggs High Road.

I must make a note about starlings – when you’re actually looking for them they’re very noticeable by their absence. The centre of the population in my tetrad was around the farmland at Storrs, but I still only managed to count 24 individuals in the whole area. For starlings in prime habitat that seems very, very low.

Tonight I went for a walk round my patch. I still can’t believe there’s still the odd patch tick to be found – there was a flock of 12 lesser black-backed gulls at Old Wheel Farm. The highlight, though, was a spotted flycatcher flycatching (as flycatchers do!) near Loxley Fisheries. Elsewhere, the mute swan is still at Old Wheel Dam (but no signs of the teal now), plus one drake tufted duck and two lapwings overhead. Breeding-wise, a fledgling wren was at the Fisheries, along with several new mallard ducklings, and fledgling robins were below the bridge near Pro-Roll. A coot is still sitting on a nest at Old Wheel Dam, when will they hatch?!

Finally, I’ve been a bit frivolous with my money, and ordered a new camera. Part of the decision is to illustrate this blog, and make it a little more interesting, and to generally be able to record some of the birds and other wildlife I see. My camera at the moment is a small compact job, and okay for the odd landscape, or to do some simple digiscoping with (when I can be bothered to lug the scope around!), and brilliant for holiday snaps and drunken night out shots (we all have them…), but not much good apart from that.

So, realising I’ll never be able to afford a DSLR and all the lenses I’d want, I’ve gone halfway for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18, a “superzoom” with 18xzoom which is supposedly very good for what I’ll need it for. It’ll arrive in a few days so expect lots of ropey photos to look at as I get to grips with it!

Here’s a picture of it, blatently stolen off Amazon, if you’re interested:


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My name is Pete

3 thoughts on “Surveys, patch watching, etc.”

  1. I’m about to get Lumix FZ18 camera as well.

    Can you recommend cheap place to get it ?!

    Spoke to a birder the other week & he said it was good, even better if can get a cheap second hand 2 x teleconverter (think have to be careful about compatibility of specific makes though – im no expert!)

  2. Hi Mike,

    I got mine from Amazon, for about £208 including postage. Not sure it’d be much cheaper than that at the moment.

    It’s a great camera, I’d thoroughly recommend it. A teleconverter’s on my wish list too at some point too though!

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