Tuesday, 24 March 2015

March 24th Mousehold Heath

Will making notes
I'm at Mousehold Heath to help my friend and warden of the site, Will Stewart with a bird survey. We need to keep note of every bird territory every spring to find out potential nesting areas and to find out which species are claiming these territories. Today, we are surveying one side of the site with a golf course next to it. Will is in charge of the survey's route and jots down the bird species initials and whether it was a call, a song or a sighting by circling or underlining them onto a map as we go. It is my job to help locate where the bird is singing from and what kind of bird and call it is. With our knowledge combined we had a rather full map when we finished.

Our results
A survey like this helps if you know your bird songs and calls. This is where all the practice of learning the songs and calls of common birds over the winter comes in handy. Even still, the variety of songs and calls of great and blue tits causes the most confusion. There are so many ways individual great tits can sing 'teacher teacher' that it sometimes doesn't sound like 'teacher teacher'. I often confuse the more squeaky 'teacher teacher' of a coal tit for a great tit, but thankfully Will can correct me when I do. Blue tits, on the other hand, have many types of calls from 'see seee seeee seeeeeee' to a harsh nasal scolding alarm call and Will is the one who needs my help to decode these sounds. Together, we make a great team.

We heard so much from many great tits, blue tits, robins, long-tailed tits, wrens, chaffinches, a few blackbirds, dunnocks, greenfinches and the odd house sparrow, coal tit, chiffchaff and goldcrest. We even saw a few magpies, jays, carrion crows, a kestrel and some long-tailed tits with nesting material. There was also a rabbit, a squirrel and a few interesting spring plants in bloom. When I got home, I found a small tortoiseshell butterfly resting on a wall of my neighbour's appartment with it's wings closed. A great start to the survey season and hopefully they will get better and better with new additions when more migrant birds start coming in throughout the next few months.


Long-tailed Tit with nesting material
Dog Violets
Small Tortoiseshell

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