I did the first 2 hour survey of the final winter of the BTO Bird Atlas today. Funnily enough it’s the closest one to home. I had one that was only a five minute drive, and one that was not much more, but this one is no drive at all! The first part of the walk along the main road (well, B road with lorries) is no fun at all though.
Then it’s into woodland and parkland, and the main woodland birds appeared, then in front of an old house in the parkland there were some lovely mistle thrushes and fieldfares chakking about at each other. I could hear a nuthatch and eventually spotted him carrying an acorn and watched him stuff it in the end of a broken branch! I could also hear a beautiful songbird, and suddenly realised it was a song thrush, and I hadnt heard one since May!
Then out along some country lanes and along a nice track (so that was the first hour) and then into more open farmland, where there wasn’t much around although some gulls turned up and I could hear a rookery in the distance. After a little problem finding one of the footpaths (and diverting round some sugar beet – which had attracted large numbers of dunnock, presumably for whitefly or something like that – to get back on track) I eventually found my way back – straight past the rookery! I reckon there were about 200 birds in it.
The only birds I would have expected to see and didn’t were the woodpeckers, but I expect they’ll turn up. It would be nice to see some of the less common finches as well, although I did find some siskin doing the rounds of the woods and hedgerows, probably still passing through at this stage of the season.
A lovely sunny day and I look forward to the mid winter visit in January. Brrr!