Saturday, 9 April 2011

RSPB Farm Walk - 9th April 2011

One of the joys of carrying out survey work is that it quite often gives you a chance to visit certain parts of the countryside that are normally inaccessible to "joe public". For the last three years I've taken part in the RSPB's Volunteer and Farmer Alliance survey and have seen some great birds and enjoyed some super, early-morning walks in the local countryside.

The purpose of the survey is to help out farmers who are interested in improving the bird life on their farms, by surveying their land. This information is then passed onto the RSPB who analyse the results and offer advice on how to improve and increase the number and quality of birds on their land. The key species of concern are those farmland specialities such as Tree Sparrow, Grey Partridge, Skylark, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer that have declined in number and distribution across large parts of the UK.

To take part in the survey you need to register with the RSPB, who will then put you in touch with a local farmer, usually in the local area, and then carry out three or four early morning walks throughout the breeding season.

This year's farm is in Blyth, Nottinghamshire. The area to survey is relatively small and took just over 2 hours to cover. Over twenty species were seen today and the highlight of this morning's walk was the good number of Skylark (6), singing and displaying over the fields. This bird is "red listed" i.e. of the highest conservation concern, and so will be a priority species for this farm. No other "red listed" birds were seen today, but  a Sparrowhawk was recorded flying along the hedgerow and a good number of Red-legged Partridge were running around. The only summer migrants seen today were Chiffchaff, which were singing in nearby woodlands, but I'm sure this will change on the next visit in May.

Early morning on the farm- lovely!

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