Friday 13 February 2015

Surveys aplenty

Darren and I do a number of surveys for different organisations as well as leading trips. We are very lucky to live and work in such a great area and its important to monitor the health of the wildlife. Last Sunday (8th) saw us at Cotswold Water Park (CWP) doing waterfowl counts for the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). We each have a number of lakes we count each month throughout the Autumn and Winter. This is then added to all the other counts at CWP to give a monthly total of waterfowl, this in turn is added to all the counts through the UK to give a monthly total for the waterfowl in the UK. Its a great feeling to think of the 1000's of other people out and about at the same time as you doing these surveys. Between us we recorded in excess of 3,000 waterbirds - great stuff!

I have also been out and about on the Wiltshire Downland surveying farmland birds. We are reaching an important point in the winter, virtually all the overwinter stubbles will be ploughed up next week as farmers get their fields ready to plant spring crops of barley and oats. This means less food for the birds, but if we have an idea where they are we can improve things for them by putting out additional food. This picture shows part of a flock of 500 linnet feeding on an area of recently ploughed stubble, this on an organic farm which means there are lots of arable plants in the stubble and therefore lots of seed produced through the autumn.

Over the various farms I have been to I've recorded over 300 yellowhammmer, 250 corn bunting, 750 linnet, 25 reed bunting, 200 lapwing, 200 stock dove, 150 skylark, 15 grey partridge as well as a few tree sparrow, merlin, peregrine falcon and kestrels. Here are a couple of pictures of a male yellowhammer and a male corn bunting.

There are not many counties in the UK where you would be lucky enough to see such large numbers of these species other than Wiltshire. (NA)

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