Marathon bird surveys

I’ve completed all five bird surveys needed for this ‘early breeding season’ period.  Two of them were the Breeding Bird Survey, which needed an early start, between 6 and 7 am, and followed a set route round an area. 

The first was for Weston Longville, which I did on the Friday after Easter.  Last year I did it on Good Friday which happened to be the equivalent date of the day I did it this year.  As I finish that route actually in the area I’m doing a Bird Atlas survey in, I carried on to do a 2 hour Timed Tetrad Visit.  It was a most enjoyable morning, sun shining, birds singing, lots of lovely birds.  I was very happy to see both Treecreeper and Nuthatch too.  It was a long walk from the end of that back to my car (although it wasnt much more than one kilometre) and I was back home for a late breakfast and put my feet up.

A week later I did my second Bird Atlas Timed Tetrad Visit, this time for the area north of Hevingham.  Not so many birds in this area, which is mainly farmland, but met the farmer and exchanged emails.  He has already told me about a pair of Blackcaps he’s seen on the farm, so I’ve added them as Roving Records.

Finally this week I did my second Breeding Bird Survey followed by a Bird Atlas Survey over at Winterton Dunes and then East & West Somerton.  Another fabulous day, not too many birds on Winterton although the Little Terns are back (I thought they might be as the Common Terns arrived at my house last Saturday).  But there wasnt anything else on the beach and I usually see Ringed Plover and Turnstone at least.

After a short sit down and breakfast in my car I walked on the footpaths away from the beach, until I got onto the next tetrad and could start the Bird Atlas survey.  The available route on footpaths gave me a fine view of most of the area, but it did mean backtracking along the road, so I ‘stopped the clock’ when I did that and only counted birds once in the places I went through twice.  There was some lovely woodland stuffed with all the right birds, hedgerows stuffed with Whitethroat that seemed anxious to show themselves off at close range, and fields stuffed with Pheasant and Red-legged Partridge. I thought that was interesting as I’d found quite a few Grey Partridge in the heather areas on the dunes earlier that morning.

Going down to Somerton Staithe – what a beautiful little area of Broadland!  Good views across the fields but limited on the west by the reeds.  Some Cranes were warbling away and I could just see their heads; Swallows practically dive-bombing me; loads of Greylag geese, and I stopped earlier than planned (I had to turn round and come back as it went out of the area too far) as one goose was standing with seven little goslings right on the path ahead, very concerned at my disturbance!

Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings were showing themselves in the reeds, and altogether it was a lovely place to be.  Finished off with the first Cuckoo of the year and some Marsh Harriers as I made my way back towards the dunes and came back, very tired after six hours walking, along the track to Winterton accompanied by obliging Stonechats displaying to each other.

And to add to that, the Swifts arrived back in Norwich yesterday.  I love Swifts.

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