Another farmland bird survey

It’s difficult to make my farmland Breeding Bird Survey square (now also an English Winter Bird Survey square) look very interesting. It’s value is that it is typically dull.

It was being typically dull one slightly frosty morning this week when I surveyed it. Few birds and no Brown Hares.

The ‘best’ bird of the survey was a Chiffchaff hopping about in a desolate-looking hedgerow. I don’t hear many Chiffchaffs on this site in spring/summer so I was quite surprised to come across this one on this mid-winter day. And I was pleased to record it as it was skulking and silent so it was quite well-spotted – I thought it would be a Robin when I first saw it. Birds have an amazing ability to appear invisible when still. I knew where this one was but waited ages for it to move so that I could clinch the identification. It was sitting in a bare bush with a few twigs and yet it was difficult to spot.

I see from my records that in the first four years (2005-08) I surveyed this square (in the breeding season) I had three Chiffchaff records (not strictly true – but a simplification that saves space) and in the last four years (2015-18) those records were four times higher at 13 birds.

Good exercise and worth the time.


3 Replies to “Another farmland bird survey”

  1. Have you a farm in your area that is in HLS/ELS or Mid Tier Agreement?I presume the ones you are visiting are not(let’s face it,most are not). We were successful in our application for Mid Tier after our 10yr HLS came to an end.Part of the scheme pays for supplementary feeding next to the wild bird seed areas.We have large flocks of Yellowhammer,Chaffinch,Brambling,Linnet,Tree Sparrow and Goldfinch with a few Greenfinch,Bullfinch,Reed Bunting and assorted Tits!

  2. Birds can be amazingly invisible when still. Have you noticed that their shape in outline is very similar to the classic leaf-shape: wide in the middle and pointed at each end. I’m sure that’s part of it.

  3. I did my square at Titchmarsh yesterday. There were 27 Yellowhammer on the Pheasant feeders and about 100 Fieldfare wandering in the spring crops. Otherwise, very dull. hardly any birds about.

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