Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Winter bird survey

A joint effort by Rachel Bicker of JS Agriculture and Tom Forward of Gatwick Greenspace Partnership.

River Mole, north of the runway


On Monday we completed our final winter bird survey at the North West Zone. The River Mole was in spate, spilling out onto its floodplain, and the weather was bordering on blizzard conditions. However the birds were still pretty active and we recorded 25 different species which is not far off our usual count of around 30. 

  The floodplain, doing its job


Conspicuous by their absences were Fieldfare, Redwing and Reed Bunting which had been abundant in our early winter survey. Also recorded earlier this winter along the Mole, were Water Rail and Teal. We had also hoped to flush a Common Snipe which had been recorded last week further along the Mole in Horley. They like to probe for invertebrates in the soft ground created by flooding, but no luck on this occasion.


Little Grebe - http://www.birdforum.net/opus/Tachybaptus_ruficollis_poggei


The highlight for me was a new tick for our Gatwick bird survey… A Little Grebe bobbed up in the river about 20m in front of me and left me rather perplexed. This is a type of small diving bird which is a lovely reddish brown colour. Whenever I see something I’m not sure of, I suddenly find I lose all ability to describe or explain, so this is what I helpfully called out to Tom: “Quick, Tom! A braaaaahhn thing!” It then of course completely vanished, but somehow he knew from that vague description what I was getting at. Luckily it popped up again later on and so Tom was able to confirm it. 

Our transect route in the North West Zone