Almost a lost domain! And being a BTO volunteer I had access to it today. What a gift! It was for the second half of the Breeding Bird Survey that I am privileged to carry out in this isolated spot in the middle of southern Dartmoor for the BTO.
But bluebells and marsh marigolds aside, the numbers of bird species don’t make great reading: after I had added my bird-count to the BTO website I looked up figures for past years. The last survey in 2008 shows there was a whole lot of birds we didn’t hear or see: grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler, spotted fly catcher, gold crest, greenfinch, linnet, snipe.
Admittedly, I am an amateur at this and your ear needs to be really fine-tuned to catch all the songs but. on turning to my great little BirdGuide app which plays the songs of birds beautifully, I can honestly say I never heard those. In addition, on the first occasion, I did have two RSPB friendly helpers and this morning one accompanied me.
We heard lots of willow warblers, black caps, wrens, gold finches, house martins, swallows and wagtails and many other birds but not those other ones. The numbers of meadow pipits and sky larks had increased but where were all the bog-loving birds?
The farmer enthuses about birds too and does what he can to help them survive, planting small trees where we heard at least a willow warbler, pointing out two pairs of increasingly rare house martins. I wondered if I glimpsed a pied fly-catcher in his stand of willow but this was not corroborated!
In 2008 the BTO volunteer recorded 45 species of birds in his two visits while we recorded only 27. It wasn’t the best weather to listen out for birds today but it wasn’t blowing a gale, well, not then anyway!
Just to warn you: birds will only be singing for a few more weeks. It’s great to listen, realising there’s far more in the hedge row than you can see.
And here are some pictures of the lost domain…..