Today I was back at Prestwood, Bucks, for the second of my breeding bird surveys (BBS) for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). It was five weeks since my first one, which I reported here, and it was all quite different.
For a start, as I stand in the beechwood ready to begin at 6.25 am there are fewer birds singing than in May, the noise is less intense and it’s easier to work out what’s going on. However, it is confused by the cheepings of youngsters, which we are not meant to record.
The beechwoods are deeper green.
The grass in the meadow has grown considerably
and is now a rich mix of clover and daisies.
The view across the valley is shades of green.
It was good to see and hear blackcaps, to hear two cuckoos and to know that robins, blackbirds, chaffinches and song thrushes are thriving in this part of Bucks. A skylark sang over the grass fields but there was no sign of the yellowhammer from my May visit.
On my second transect, in Lawrence Grove Wood, I was pleased to meet Virginia Deradour from Collings Hanger Farm, setting out to check her pigs and cattle. The farm is organic, recognised by the Soil Association, and Virginia welcomes my survey. She told me how they have visits from inner-city children who have never been to the countryside. They call the Lawrence Grove Wood ‘Quiet Wood’. Here the children are asked to be quiet and to experience nature. They are surprised to discover the pigs rootling there.
She also told me that many of the children have never seen an open space larger than a football pitch and have never been allowed to run out of sight. They achieve both when they visit her farm.
It’s nice to do my BBS on land which is run by people who appreciate the value of recording birds and of enabling deprived children to enjoy the countryside.