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.
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.
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 (http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/bbs/research-conservation/butterflies?dm_i=IG4,S1JI,3MU47V,29XIP,1) too. Can’t wait!