BBS – A Tale of Two Squares

New recruit, Alex Pollard, sent us this account of her first two outings as a BBS surveyor.

I signed up to do 2 BBS this year – and at first I thought they would be hugely different. One is in Leckwith, Cardiff – with the Cardiff City Stadium in the middle of the square, and the other is in a semi-rural area near Machen.

Cardiff City Stadium – no, you can’t count Bluebirds on your BBS

After several mornings of setting my alarm at 5am to check the weather, I was rewarded with a fantastic sunny day for the “early BBS visit” having already done the habitat survey and route planning. The first thing I noticed was the chattering sparrows, songful starlings and foraging blackbirds in the residential street. The second was the amount of people out and about early on a Sunday morning! The second transect passed though the Capital Retail Centre car park – a mass of concrete and tarmac. Even so, a few species were present – pied wagtails, lesser black-backed gulls and jackdaws. In total, 25 species were seen – showing that even in built-up urban areas, there are a few birds around.

A couple of days later, I did the second BBS near Machen. On my recce visit I’d spotted a lesser whitethroat, but unfortunately he was hiding for the BBS! There were plenty of willow warblers, blackcaps and chiffchaff singing away. I also had 11 long-tailed tits performing their gymnastics and contact calling which was lovely to see.

Long-tailed Tit (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)
Long-tailed Tit (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

I flushed a buzzard from her tree and several jays were particularly active. At one point I saw a mallard in a heap – I politely coughed to see if she was sleeping or dead – fortunately she was just asleep, so I could count her! Total number of species was 27, so a similar number to Leckwith. The best bit of this survey was meeting a very enthusiastic dog walker – she was so pleased to see someone doing a bird survey, she wanted to know more how she could get involved.

I’ll be visiting the sites soon for my next “late visit” and also for butterflies (,S1JI,3MU47V,29XIP,1) too. Can’t wait!


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