Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Early Winter Bird Survey 2015 - North West Zone

Friday December 18th

R2-D2 Dreamliner

It was an incredibly a mild December morning when Jedi Birder Tom Forward, of the order Gatwick Greenspace Partnership, swooped in for our early winter bird survey.

The North West Zone, located in the Outer Rim Territories of Gatwick

Straight away we felt a strong presence in the force, scooping up a brand new species for our surveys landside at Gatwick... A Coot

It's a little odd that we haven't picked up Coot on previous surveys, but I have checked the ancient iRecord archive scrolls, dating back a whole 3 years and true it is confirmed to be.
  In some nearby scrub, we gained privileged views of a lone Fieldfare breaking its fast on tasty rose hips...



Other thrush species picked up here were Redwing, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Mistle Thrush. An excitedly singing Dunnock also made its presence known from a nearby hedgerow. 
   At the end of the canalised section of river, where the Mole begins to meander, we saw a dark shape nip into the reed bed... could it be?

The Water Rail victory dance

The calls of Water Rail are pretty unmistakable (and bizarre), sounding more like a squealing piglet than a wetland bird. Reed Bunting, Song Thrush and Wren also sounded off, hidden from view in the reeds, while a flock of Long-tailed Tits moved through the trees.

Reeds along the River Mole

Passing around the north side of Brockley Wood, Carrion CrowJackdaw and Jay were our first corvids of the day and the lively sound of a Redwing flock came from somewhere in the gloom. Incredibly, signs of spring were cropping up everywhere...

Elder (Sambucus nigra) coming into leaf




Out of the woods and into a busy section of floodplain, with Fieldfare flying overhead and mixed flocks of Blue Tits, Great Tits and Goldcrests foraged in the tree tops. As we rounded a bend in the river, the landscape was contrastingly tranquil, with softly calling Song Thrush and a lonely-sounding Bullfinch


Then again, all Bullfinches sound lonely... Maybe if they lightened up a little they would have more friends.
   Along the next section of river, the ground up from the boggy floodplain is on a rather steep incline and whippy Alder scrub makes the going tougher.


More Redwing zipped back and forth, busily foraging in the dense scrub and a Green Woodpecker spooked us with a loud yaffle, erupting up out of the grass.



A the furthest point downstream, just outside of our allowed survey time, we were treated to the sight of a Kingfisher perching directly in front of us and a small group of Roe Deer trotting off around the corner. (Even if noted outside of the survey time, we enter all of the day's species into iRecord.)


A final word of advice: before beginning your linear transect of 3km over difficult terrain, do check you have your car keys with you and they are not locked in the car all the way t'other end.

Fieldfare departs LGW

Species total: 32
  • Blackbird
  • Blue Tit
  • Bullfinch
  • Carrion Crow
  • Chaffinch
  • Common Buzzard
  • Coot
  • Dunnock
  • Fieldfare
  • Goldcrest
  • Goldfinch
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker
  • Great Tit
  • Green Woodpecker
  • Herring Gull
  • Jackdaw
  • Jay
  • Kingfisher
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Magpie
  • Meadow Pipit
  • Mistle Thrush
  • Moorhen
  • Pied Wagtail
  • Redwing
  • Reed Bunting
  • Robin
  • Song Thrush
  • Starling
  • Water Rail
  • Wood Pigeon
  • Wren