|Gravel bar across the Oyster Beds, Hayling Island|
|BH Gulls and Common Tern|
Never the less I had a very pleasant time, scanning through the birds that had chosen this inland spot, there were Common and Little Terns present as well as the Black Headed Gulls. A few Meds flew over while I watched and then headed out to the harbour. Through my scope I could see the commotion over South Binnes with an extraordinary amount of birds flying around the island.
Sunday I joined a BTO run course looking at methodologies and skills necessary in order to complete the Breeding Bird Survey, something that I have previously mentioned I intend to partake in next year. The course was being run by Avon Wildlife trust/BTO employee Matt Collis at the Dorset Wildlife Trusts, Beacon Hill Urban Wildlife Centre near Poole. The day started with looking at visual ID skills, something I am (big headedly) pretty good at, it was a very interesting look at breaking down ID features to be able to comprehensively and accurately ID certain species, especially confusion species. I even learned a new word. Speculum: The brightly coloured feather on a ducks wing, present in females as well as males and useful for ID.
|Beacon Hill has a mix of Habitats from scrubland|
The next section focused on songs and calls, and here, in my own mind, is my biggest downfall as a birder. I was very pleasantly surprised, song wise I am actually not bad, being able to ID 90% of the species asked. Calls however was where I really saw a gap in my knowledge. Matt was brilliant with ways to remember calls and even songs. When we got out on the heath for the practical the first bird anyone saw was a Dartford Warbler sitting on top of the gorse, characteristic long tail and jizz, it soon dropped back down into the scrub as the wind picked up.
There were plenty of Stonechats about, one male seen repeatedly carrying food parcels to either a sitting female of his young. The jarring chat noise that gives the birds their name echoing around the heath is like two stones cracking together. There were also, Goldcrest, ChiffChaff, Nuthatch, Kestrel, Carrion Crows, Jackdaw, BHG, Blackcap, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Wren and Linnet about. Almost all picked up by song and call.
The afternoon session was based around planning transects within your 1km BBS square and best practices etc., and how to go about recording all the necessary information both online and in paper form. Matt was incredibly knowledgeable and his ability to pick out even the faintest bird call/song and know exactly what made it is unerring.
|To Coniferous Woodland|
We ended the day on a practical session practicing transect walking and recording. This was great to be able to practice what we would be doing for our BBS squares before actually doing them. I am planning on making some random 1km squares and plotting transects, surveying and recording what's in them just in order to practice for next year!
A massive thank you to Matt Collis, super birder tutor and to the team at the Dorset Wildlife Trusts, Beacon Hill Urban Wildlife Centre. Be sure to check out their Great Heath Project!