That’s a good question. I have volunteered for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) nightingale survey and my ‘square’ at Booker, High Wycombe, Bucks, is the tetrad (two kilometre square) which BTO has allocated to me. Today I did a recce.
The chances of hearing, let alone seeing, a nightingale must be slim. The tetrad is blessed with the M40 running across it, the Booker aerodrome bang in the middle, High Heavens municipal dump on the south side, and a clay-pigeon shoot on the west.
But in between and surrounding these is some woodland and scrub which may be eligible habitat.
I am required, between 21 April and 14 May, to make two daytime visits to all suitable habitat in the tetrad (eg dense undergrowth, scrub, bramble, coppice, dense hedgerow), between first light and 8.30am, recording any singing males or nightingales I see. If I do see or hear any, I must then make two nocturnal visits to those spots, after 18 May. I have only once heard a nightingale, on 6 May 2010 on the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Ebernoe Common in West Sussex, and it was a magic moment. I hope for more such moments.
Fortunately most of the woods in my tetrad have open access and it was a delight to see the welcoming sign at Hillgreen Wood.
However, it was not a delight to see that a footpath, Great Marlow 61, which runs across a field to the M40, was illegally cropped with mustard. I immediately reported this to Bucks County Council.
I shall let you know if I do find any nightingales singing in my Booker square.