Bird Survey as of 16 October 2020 and a Grey Wagtail
We have been conducting a bird survey, mostly weekly, since 19th April 2018. We have been counting the number of birds of the species that we have seen. Three areas have been surveyed – Darrick Wood and Meadow, Newstead Wood and Meadow and Darrick Wood Hornbeam area/Broadwater Wood.
It should be noted that this is not a scientific survey and bird numbers cannot be accurate as birds are very mobile. We have only recorded species which we can positively identify by sight. But in the case of the Tawny Owl we are identifying it by the sound of its call.
We have been continuing monthly surveys this year. We thought that we had exhausted our list of species, but I was surprised to see a Grey Wagtail when I went for a walk with my wife through Darrick Wood on the 3rd of October 2020. This bird cannot be recorded on the official survey as it was not on our standard route.
2020 has been one of the warmest years in official records and some of the months were our driest. By early August, the large pond near Lovibonds Avenue had completely dried out.
Darrick and Newstead Woods in general had also completely dried out. During the hot summer months, we were counting a reduced number of birds on the survey, especially the smaller species. In early October, the drought was really starting to be relieved. My wife and I took a walk through the woods before the deluge started. The large pond was beginning to fill up again and to our surprise we saw the grey wagtail searching for food alongside the edge of the new pond. Grey Wagtails can be confused with Yellow Wagtails, but they have longer tails and black feathers on their chin and throat. Yellow Wagtails migrate in October; Grey Wagtails are resident.
Our bird flew off the pond onto to the path alongside the Marsh and we got a better view to positively identify it. We got a very pleasant surprise and we have identified a new species that can survive in our reserve despite the unfavourable drought, as the Grey Wagtail needs water to survive. Perhaps the Marsh had not completely dried.
The full report can be see below: