BBS results for Finlake area

I did my second Breeding Bird Survey transect for the year this morning in 'my' square, which covers part of Finlake, near Chudleigh Knighton. Looking back over the results since BBS began in 1994 is very revealing, although the main value of course comes when the data are combined with those from the other 3,700+ transects in the UK.

I've found 75 species in total over the years, so it's proved to be quite an interesting area for birds. These have included Mandarin, Hobby, Peregrine, Cuckoo (but not since 2000), Kingfisher, Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Wheatear, Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Wood Warbler and Lesser Redpoll. Though often only single records, these show what patch working can turn up, even if it is only two visits a year. I record an average of 44.5 species per year (range 40-48), but slightly fewer in recent years than in the early years. However, I don't think I can put that down to any loss of hearing, as I'm still finding similar numbers of Goldcrest and Treecreeper! That's important, as most of the birds are located initially on song or call.

Of the more numerous birds, Woodpigeon continues a run of lean years, possibly due to the disappearance of arable land in the square, which no doubt explains why I've only seen single Skylarks in the last two years, compared with 4-10 previously. I used to have 1-2 pairs of Woodlarks breeding, but haven't seen these since 2008 (also principally down to the loss of arable). There's been a big increase in 'horsiculture', which has mostly accounted for the conversion of arable to grass as odd fields have been sold off. On the plus side, there's been an increase in Yellowhammers, notably near stables (a connection I've noticed elsewhere locally).

2016 is the best year for Robin, and among the best for Wren and Blue Tit. Chiffchaff and Blackcap are both more numerous than in the 1990s, continuing a trend which I reckon started in the 1980s (over which period Willow Warblers became much scarcer away from the uplands. A nice surprise was 2 Spotted Flycatchers, which I've only seen twice before, but no Whitethroats for the second year.

Sorry this is longer than other posts, but I just wanted to show enjoyable it is doing a BBS transect, building a picture of bird populations locally, and importantly helping to produce national trends. I would encourage anyone to join in the fun!

Posted May 20th, 2016 at 3:33 pm by Dave Smallshire in Bird News