This morning I was out surveying what is normally my breeding bird survey square near Moreton Pinkney in south Northants - but this time as part of the BTO's English Winter Bird Survey. This was my second of, hopefully, four visits in the period Dec to March. The aim of the study it to shed more light on why the majority of our farmland birds continue to decline. There is also an emphasis on recording Brown Hares and other mammals.
It was near perfect survey conditions this morning - calm, sunny and fairly mild. Robins and Great Tits were singing and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming. It is quite interesting to see "my" survey square in winter, with a different mix of species including our winter thrushes, Redwings and Fieldfares. Last month, on my first visit, I glimpsed a Kingfisher speeding along the small stream and saw several Jays. It was rather sad to see that a large field corner that had been left to go wild for a few years had been ploughed up, especially as Common Spotted Orchids had started to colonise last year. Small losses of habitat like this, if repeated across the landscape, can have a big cumulative effect on bird populations - removing valuable year-round foraging areas rich in seeds and insects.
The continued absence of any Tree Sparrows was not really a surprise given the widespread disappearance of this species in our area recently. They are not helped by the recent conversion of many derelict barns to new homes, but this is not the main fain factor affecting them - it is the loss of good winter feeding sites (cereal stubble, game strips etc.) that is by far the main cause.
|These barns used to be home to chattering groups of Tree Sparrows, but they seem to have died out now.|
|View towards Canons Ashby|