Mar 312013

Some of you will know that Sally and I put all of our bird sightings on to the BTO BirdTrack website. This is a really excellent system that allows our data to be used to monitor bird populations, to map bird distributions and direct conservation needs. It also allows us to keep a record of what we see and it can be quite interesting to look back at “old” records. OK – which bird do you think that we have seen and recorded most frequently so far this year (in 90 days) ? Well it ought to be house sparrow – we keep a good eye on our garden and we see them every day. I put up 4 new very solid woodcrete sparrow nestboxes on our house wall at the end of last year. I am not a gifted DIYer and one of the boxes (or its front door) is a bit loose. Every morning when Mr and Mrs H. Sparrow pay a visit it rocks and bangs against our bedroom wall. I now know that sparrows visit their intended nest site every day because the banging on the wall wakes me up – yes, really! We should have recorded house sparrows every day and they should be top of our list but they come in at only 38 records.



We see a lot of robins. The robins in our garden are fairly tame but the KWT Sevenoaks Wildfowl reserve has the friendliest robins around. The one at the picnic benches is the best but there are several others that come looking for food.
We found another tame robin at Stodmarsh  as it fed on some biscuit crumbs. But no – robins only came in second at 41 records.

Red Kite sightings

Red Kite sightings

Although red kites are only rarely seen in Kent  we have many records for this year. The map of our records is fascinating and it tell us something fundamental about distribution maps. This year we have made two train journeys to Oxford and Birmingham. As the train speeds along we count all of the red kites that we see and log their location using a GPS unit that we happen to have with us. Well why not? I can recommend the tip just north of Didcot. The map clearly shows the two train lines Paddington – Oxford and Marylebone – Birmingham as they cross the Chilterns. The re-introduction of the red kite has been a great conservation success for the RSPB and the Chilterns is still the stronghold for this species in England. But at “only” 31 records the red kite is well down our sightings list.

So which bird tops our 2013 list so far! Perhaps you knew what it would be all along – woodpigeon at 59 records.

 Posted by on 31 March 2013 at 4:33 pm

  7 Responses to “Putting Birds on the Map”

Comments (7)
  1. You can register and add your sightings to the BirdTrack database at the following address:
    Click here to access.

  2. Interesting to see the distribution of RK’s along the railway lines. I suppose, like most railway tracks, they tend to be wildlife highways with undisturbed banks and sidings, a direct link with other areas that aren’t crossed by roads, but also have their fair share of ‘kill’ from collisions. This would supply plenty of food to scavenge on and attract these opportunist birds perhaps. Well, that’s my theory.

  3. I say two red kites circling over Detling Hill yesterday on my way to Faversham, saw them on the way back too. Wonderful sight, I was so thrilled as have never seen one in Kent before but always look forward to seeing them going up the M4.
    They were magnificent.

    • They are certainly magnificent – sadly still quite a rare sight in Kent. However a spring migration through Kent seems to be developing and the habitat along the ridge of the Downs should be good for breeding.

  4. Spotted a red kite 2 days running flying around the outskirts of Rolvenden , along the A28route in Kent !! Amazing

  5. And over Riverview Park Gravesend today! Although I was at Elmley so I missed this one too!

  6. Watched 3 red kites over Goodnestone (between Canterbury and Dover) today. Been seeing at least one on a daily basis this summer. A very special sight.