Near Chudleigh Knighton

The highlight of the first Breeding Bird Survey transect in 'my' 1-km square to the north of Chudleigh Knighton this morning were 11 Greenland Wheatears. This was the first record of a Wheatear during these transects since starting in 1994. Birdwise, everything else seemed much as expected, but some insects were conspicuous by their absence - notably no Orange Tips or St Mark's Flies, both of which are normally around in good numbers by now.

The Wheatears were in a large meadow with racehorses. Not long ago this and an adjacent field were arable, holding several pairs of Skylarks and occasional Woodlarks. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the latter have abandoned the area as 'horsiculture' has taken over. Skylarks are still there, though whether they will breed there in such short turf is another matter. On the positive side, Yellowhammers seem to be attracted to horses - or perhaps rather their food! My square now has only one arable field left. It's a very varied square, so an interesting one to monitor, but I do regret the demise of a nice mix of arable, grassland and woodland that contributed to the habitat diversity. Big changes in less than 20 years!

Posted April 26th, 2013 at 12:22 pm by Dave Smallshire in Bird News