Timed tetrad visits for the BTO 2007-11 Atlas finish on Sunday, and I have completed my last two sites. Thanks to Malcolm and Sally for their help and encouragement in this. Two sites in a day is never easy, but we had little choice with other commitments and once you get out there it’s always interesting. So after two one hour surveys at Trossley Country Park and surrounds it was over to New Ash Green for the same.
It has been fascinating to see how patterns change with the seasons, and although the old favourites are always present there have been a few surprises, mainly the number of birds of prey with buzzard seen in each of the four visits and great views over both sites, with several birds overhead and breeding sparrowhawk near New Ash Green yesterday. The most numerous bird on every occasion in both sites has been wood pigeon.
The best visits were (unsurprisingly) the April/May surveys where there was great evidence of breeding birds, with good views of blackcap, green woodpecker, goldcrest, blue and great tits, wren, whitethroat and treecreeper at Trossley and kestrel, long-tailed tit, chiffchaff, whitethroat, goldfinch and garden warbler at New Ash Green. The birds were vocal and visible with lots of breeding activity to see.
Our stars for nesting birds has to go to the great spotted woodpecker family near New Ash Green though, the adults were busily food collecting and once we had settled quietly with a view of their nesting hole they gave us a great show of their parental devotion, lots of contact calls, flying back and forth with full beaks to feed the young. You could hear the chicks calling from the nest as they kept in constant contact with the parent birds. “Timed” tetrad visit didn’t quite fit the bill on this one and we did stop the clock for a while so that we could just soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the moment . . . .
One of the reasons why the surveys are so enjoyable and why I’ll miss doing them . . . . . . still there’s always the weekly garden watch, the roving reports, etc, etc. . . just going to clean my bins!