Winter Bird Survey

Last weekend saw my final survey visit for the new BTO English Winter Bird Survey. This survey covers my regular Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) km square just outside Broadway, Worcestershire. Due to the recent warm weather it was more like an early Breeding Bird Survey, with resident birds like song thrush, robin, wren, chaffinch, linnet and skylarks singing everywhere. There were some winter redwings still around and a fly-over siskin, but due to the lack of leaves I saw more of the resident birds than I often do when I visit in April. Bullfinch, marsh tit and treecreeper are some of the less common residents on this square that were showing well. Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers are easiest seen at this time of year, but one seen calling and drumming on a dead tree is a rare sighting here or in indeed most other places in UK.

I liked doing the survey on my regular square and seeing different birds there, but doing the expected 4 visits was a problem as short winter days make it hard to do the survey around other weekend activities, especially in the pre-Christmas period. As it was I only managed the two visits in December and February, but I do think this was enough to accurately survey the wintering bird population on the site.

Winter Thrushes

We get a decent selection of wintering thrushes in the village. Several (up to ten) Redwings are roosting in next door’s holly tree and are usually around eating berries or sitting high in the birch trees. So far, as there are plenty of berries, they stay up in the trees, but later on they will likely be down in the leaf little looking for insects. A few blackbirds are around too, also in the holly tree, or on the lawn. While there seem more redwings than last year, blackbirds didn’t yet get close to the max count of 11 last year. Fieldfares are plentiful in the orchards and wet fields around the region; we see them overhead but not often in the garden. Not unless there’s a snowfall. A Mistle thrush was around the garden earlier in the autumn, but there’s not much mistletoe so it moved on, but probably not far. The orchards round here are full of mistletoe, which these birds guard jealously against competitors. Rounding it off, I saw my first garden song thrush since the blog started in June the other day - as usual it keeps a low profile around the corners of the garden.

#401 Winter Moth

Found this Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) in the house today. It’s not rare, but as a moth that flies from November through January, it is unusual. The males fly up to the top of trees to find the flightless females, who lay their eggs in leaf buds. The moths are native to Europe, but introduced and becoming a pest in North America, where they lack natural predators.

The other new species is a moss I photographed on the roof the other day; Grey-cushioned Grimmia (Grimmia pulvinata). It’s a pretty common moss in fact, growing alongside Redshank Moss in silver fluffy clumps on the tiles.