If Your New Year’s Resolution Was to Add Value to Your Birding . . .

For the past 14 years Caerphilly Castle Moat has been counted for the Wetland Birds Survey (WeBS) by one counter – Marie Makepeace. During that period, the vast majority of the wildfowl data for this site that you may have seen tabulated in the annual Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report have come from  Marie’s counts.

That’s a tremendous effort for one person. But, sadly, Marie has informed me today that she intends to stand down as the WeBS counter for this site. There aren’t many WeBS counters who have given such long service and I’d like to thank Marie for her dedication and for her invaluable contribution to this survey, and to the gathering of local bird data.

Caerphilly Castle Moat
Caerphilly Castle Moat

This means of course that a vacancy has arisen as a WeBS counter at Caerphilly Castle Moat. Would you like to take it on? If you’ve never done a bird survey before, WeBS is a great place to start.  It’s the survey that monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK and all you need is the ability to identify common waterbirds and to count the birds at your nominated wetland site once a month between September and March (and, although optional, any additional months between April and August too if you can make them).

You can find out more about the WeBS survey locally and some more detail about how to do the survey.

If your New Year’s Resolution for 2013 was to add value to your birding this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.  If you’re interested in taking on Caerphilly Castle Moat for WeBS, or if you know of another wetland site which you may be interested in monitoring, please get in touch for a no obligation chat.

Daniel Jenkins-Jones
WeBS Local Organiser for East Glamorgan
t: 029 20 621394
e: eastglamwebs@gmail.com


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