Thursday, 15 November 2007


The stunning weather this morning tempted me away from this machine and out to do my first tetrad for the new British bird atlas project. This is the is the first to combine breeding and wintering birds. The previous two breeding bird atlases covered 1968-1972 and 1998-1992, and the sole wintering atlas fell to the winters 1981/82 to 1983/84. The great bonus of this atlas is the ability to sign up for tetrads and enter data online, meaning some demonstration stats can be run continually - for instance, the number of tetrads covered, signed up for and visited, the percentage of expected species found and so on... If you want more information, search and if you're able to take part, DO SO! Again, through that link...

The system runs basically along these lines: two winter visits, minimum 1 hour each, one in the early winter and one in the late winter. Breeding is covered by the same system, one visit in the earlier spring and one in the later spring/early summer. There are options to continue on for longer and gain more detail about the use of the tetrad by the birds there, but those are the minima. Pretty simple, really!

This morning's visit was to a fairly uniform area of farmland near home. Most of the fields are pasture, winter cereals or stubbles, and the bulk of the hedges are cropped fairly tight with flails over the autumn. Despite this, I managed to find a respectable 28 species in the hour's visit, including Woodlark, Red-legged Partridge and Kingfisher. I missed out on at least 8-10 species that I know will occur in the area, so some further roaming will be required to confirm their presence.

Other interesting finds: a rubber dragonfly in the hedge, some late Red Admiral butterflies taking advantage of the ivy nectar and a fly-tipped washing machine...

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