Monday, 22 June 2015

Late Breeding Bird Survey (Land East)

Today, Ecology students Mark and Elliott were joining us from Royal Holloway University (my old stomping ground!) so we were hoping to come up with some good birding action...

A soggy start at the Land East of the Railway Line

At the very start in the Gatwick Stream grasslands, a cloud of around 45 Swifts were drifting above our heads over the water treatment works. There were multitudes of scruffy-looking Jackdaws and Carrion Crows, apparently in post-breeding condition as they were moulting and missing wing feathers.

A lone Carrion Crow

Further to the east, a Stock Dove performed the classic 'paper aeroplane' display flight right over our heads while a Green Woodpecker flitted back and forth to a small patch of woodland, possibly feeding its chicks hidden somewhere in the woodland fragment.


The damp weather meant that bird activity was quite suppressed, but this gave an opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with those familiar species which we take for granted, such as the ubiquitous and relentless Wren, powering through even the worst weather!

Wren song with the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the background

The alarm call of the Wren is generally a fast 'tec-tec'... 



Whereas a Robin call is more like a 'tic-tic'...


Birch, Ash, Alder and Scots Pine make up the canopy in Upper Picketts Wood

In Upper Picketts Wood, a large band of Blue Tits were moving together in a roving flock; potentially several family groups which had banded together...

A  Coal Tit then sang out, seemingly at Tom Forward's request...



The twittering of young birds and the alarm call of an adult Chiffchaff alerted us to something in the bushes...


Out of the woods and a brief grassland interlude.... All was pretty quiet and rather waterlogged in Goat Meadow.

Goat Meadow, a scrub and grassland mosaic

The song of a Robin, being slightly upstaged by a Blackbird

The dampest, saddest Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) you might ever see

In the woodland strip (our reliable Chaffinch hotspot), we had lovely views while the parents fed their chicks.


Really not the day to be without a weatherwriter

It was nice to hear the calls of both Treecreeper and Nuthatch in the same vicinity...

Treecreeper


Nuthatch

However, a lovely end to the survey with close up views of the same group of Swifts, swooping low down over the water treatment ponds...


And the calls of a few intermingled House Martins...



All in all a damp and dreary experience. Gonna have to break out the good biscuits to bribe the work experience guys back again.


Many thanks to Tom F., Mark and Elliott for your time and enthusiasm!

Our final tally was 28 species, actually a good count for this time of year:

1 Blackbird Turdus merula
2 Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
3 Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus
4 Carrion Crow Corvus corone
5 Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
6 Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
7 Coal Tit Periparus ater
8 Dunnock Prunella modularis
9 Goldcrest Regulus regulus
10 Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
11 Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major
12 Great Tit Parus major
13 Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
14 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
15 Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
16 Jackdaw Corvus monedula
17 Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
18 Magpie Pica pica
19 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
20 Nuthatch Sitta europaea
21 Robin Erithacus rubecula
22 Song Thrush Turdus philomelos
23 Stock Dove Columba oenas
24 Swallow Hirundo rustica
25 Swift Apus apus
26 Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
27 Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus
28 Wren Troglodytes troglodytes