SURVEYING AGAIN - 18 June 2015

One year ago I wrote about bird surveys. I explained then how I take part in the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, recording the birds I see and hear on 2 spring visits along a stretch of my local river. I wrote about the procedure I need to follow, the time it usually takes me and the numbers of species I tend to see. Last year my visits took place on 2 May and 13 June, I recorded 48 species across the two dates and I added a new bird - Tree Sparrow to make my 69th species to my cumulative total.

The Waterbirds Breeding Survey is annual and 2015 marks my 13th consecutive year of taking part. My 'early' visit took place on 1 May. Although I recorded only 32 species that morning, I was happy with my sightings as these included 2 new birds for the survey. Both Stock Dove and Gadwall are species that I am seeing more often locally, and their entries onto the list might reflect a welcome increase in their local populations. Yet the best was still to come. This year I undertook my 'late' visit on 18 June and once again I added a new bird. Not just any new bird, but the avian equivalent of a holy grail which I have expected in vain over the years of surveying to see. For I know the bird is out there and I see it occasionally on my walks along this river, but never during my survey visits. Never that is until now. I had just started my 5th and final half kilometre when I heard a high pitched call, looked up and saw a flash of azure blue. KINGFISHER!!! My 72nd survey species and great to see at long, long last.

Mark Winter

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