On Easter Monday I repeated my bird survey for the Thame Valley Conservation Trust. The deal is that you have at least one tetrad (a one-kilometre square on the Ordnance Survey map). Mine is in the Wormsley valley near Stokenchurch in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (SU79H, with the grid reference SU7294 in the bottom left-hand corner). I have already done the survey in December 2016 and February 2017 and must do it again twice between April and June. This was my third visit.
For the spring survey we are asked to visit early in the morning and to note the breeding status of any birds seen or heard. That means one must log if one hears a singing male or sees display or nest activity. When logging the records one logs the status which indicates the greatest evidence of breeding (for example courtship and display which suggests ‘probable breeder’ trumps singing male which is just ‘possible breeder’).
I set off from Cowleaze Wood car park at 7.12 am and immediately heard a singing blackcap followed by robins, wrens and chiffchaffs. I walked through the wood and then a short way along the escarpment where I picked up coal tits and linnets. I took the bridleway past Upper Vicars Farm. It was a grey morning but the light showed through the trees.
In the valley I heard willow warblers. I climbed the hill out of the Wormsley Valley and saw eight red kites and two buzzards.
Once I was back in the wood the species became richer again, with robins, wrens, goldcrests.
In the dense brambles there were wrens and no doubt dunnocks and other birds which I could not see.
There were patches of bluebells, far too early.
We are supposed to walk for at least two hours so I used the extra time to visit Bald Hill, for a downland habitat.
I walked back up the footpath to the song of chiffchaffs, blackcaps and the inevitable robins.
My total count for the two hours was 23 species, with 32 robins (with at least one showing courtship and display), 23 wrens (ditto), 15 great tits and chiffchaff (singing), and 12 blackcap (singing). I feel my results are rather skewed because chiffchaff, blackcap and willow warblers are noisy singers so I am more likely to hear them than other species such as tits which are more discreet.
Nevertheless, it is rewarding and even though I am not completely accurate, I hope that the results will prove useful to the project.