I was up early, although not that early for me, yesterday to visit one of my two Breeding Bird Survey squares. This is the 12th year I have covered this particular 1km square on the border of Cambs and Northants – it almost feels like mine after all this time.
The weather was cold, and it looked as though it might rain, but despite the nip in the air the visit went off fine. As I walked to the place where surveying starts, I noticed that the ground vegetation was very short – presumably because of the cold month of weather we have had (are still having!). Sometimes I am walking through knee-high grass at this stage, but not today.
It’s rather boring farmland with green lanes through it. But it’s also fascinating – simply because I am beginning to know it so well. The ‘star bird’ of this occasion was a Yellow Wagtail – which was also more or less the last bird I recorded. The numbers of Yellow Wags are declining nationally and have fallen over the years on this site too, and so every year I wonder whether I will see any. So far, every year I have; and that is now true of this year after Visit 1 (Visit 2 will be in early June). This bird was on a part of the route which has never before provided a Yellow Wag.
There were good numbers of Whitethroats and Yellowhammers, and record numbers (don’t get too excited – that is four) of Lesser Whitethroats too. And the second-ever Mistle Thrush. But no Reed Buntings – maybe next time.
As I sat at my computer to enter the data online, I learned later, a Common Crane was flying over my local patch of Stanwick Lakes. Hmm, the things I do for the BTO (and RSPB and JNCC).