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June 2011 Pierrepont bird survey

by Brian Lavers

This, the second of our three 2011 surveys, was completed by the Brians Senior and Lavers on Monday 6 June. The survey conducted along the established route except for the Water Meadow segment which this time contained three Jersey bulls. We were thus persuaded to shift the route to the lower half of the meadow thereby placing a deep ditch and a substantial fence between us and them!

An enjoyable day as always, this time yielding two new species for Pierrepont thereby raising the grand total over the past 4½ years to 70.

The very welcome rain that had fallen during the previous twelve hours stopped as we set out.

A large mixed group of swallows and house martins chasing insects over the fields was found to have within it a pair of sand martins – reinforcing the rule that you should never assume that any large bird flock only contains the species you initially assumed it contained!

On the Silvergate/RSPB reserve boundary a single bird very difficult to see but its clear song, recorded for some post-survey research, was confirmed after an hour or so researching recordings on the internet, etc. as that of a tree pipit.

A couple of brief snatches of song heard along the river initially identified, with some confidence it must be said, as that of a reed warbler. Doubts however set in after consulting the reference books where the description of the preferred habitat just didn’t fit that within which the song was heard, and so, this time at least, it was not recorded. (You see how fastidious we bird recorders are!)

The house sparrows seem to have had a successful Spring, with fourteen including several young counted around the farm buildings this time. No one, not even the bird ringers who are usually expert at such things, have so far found a nest site this year. Interesting also in that up to three years ago we were unable to find a single house sparrow on the farm. A good result for a species that has declined nationally by 60% since 1970.

The day nicely rounded off by the sight of half a dozen house martins gathered around the edge of the new farm pond, now almost half full. An encouraging early indication of its potential wildlife value.

All told a reassuring number of species seen and, generally, healthy populations of each.

Further information about the bird surveys is to be found here.