Wednesday, 19 December 2012

@WiltsWildlife - Give as you Live

Today I have signed up to Give as you Live. This site is a great idea; put simply, you spend money on the internet and a percentage is given to the charity of your choice. It's win-win for everybody; doesn't cost anything to use and your charity gets extra cash. The charity I have chosen is Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and my first donation should be going through shortly. I encourage everybody to give it a go, you only need to sign-up, then download a little app, everything else is done for you. Simple, great, and helps out the Trust.

Monday, 17 December 2012

@PatchBirding - Morgan's Hill - Wiltshire Chalk Downland

I have now completed the map of my patch and present it here in all its glory.

Morgan's Hill - Patchwork Challenge Map - Centred on SU0267 Wiltshire
I've been able to enlarge my usual route to include a small village, Calstone Wellington; a small lake, chalk stream and sewage treatment works; a couple of patches of woodland; a golf course; and of course more chalk downland.

This should enable me to up my count by a reasonable amount by including any water, woodland and village birds that I find in the northern section. There is also much more unimproved downland and arable land that is observable, up and down slope, from within the patch boundaries, which should enable me to get a few more sightings that I otherwise wouldn't. In this category will go most raptors, owls and the farmland wading birds. Plus hopefully a few rarities.

I'm all ready. Can't wait for 1st January now. Let's get this on!

Friday, 14 December 2012

@PatchBirding Morgan's Hill - Patchwork Challenge

Morgan's Hill is nationally important for the quality of its chalk grassland and the diversity of fauna and butterflies. However, Morgan's Hill (and the North Wessex Downs in general) is not widely appreciated for its avifauna. 

I intend to show that this is a misconception and that, in fact, the North Wessex Downs is a great place to go birding, and maybe (with a little luck) see something unusual. 

To this end, I have taken up the Patchwork Challenge. Essentially I will record all the birds that I see in an area of 3 OS grid squares roughly centred on Morgan's Hill Reserve (SU0267). A score will be given, based on each species rarity, and then a yearly total is established. Highest yearly total, of all competitors, is the winner.

Now, when you compare my area with some of the other entrants, you can see that there is a high chance of coming last. I'm not going to be seeing many water birds; I'm not going to be seeing many waders; I'm not going to be seeing many sea birds; in fact I may not see anything particularly 'rare' at all. What I will be seeing is mainly farmland birds and birds of open country.

All the birds on the Farmland Bird Index are present, including tree sparrow, corn bunting and turtle dove. Then there will be species such as tree pipit, raven, stonechat, ring ouzel, redstart and cuckoo that turn up at various times. Raptors are in abundance; peregrine, merlin, hobby, red kite have all been seen. Owls; short-eared, barn, tawny. Then you have the 'hit the jackpot' types such as great grey shrike and dotterel. I'll be breaking out the bubbly if I see any of them though.

Have a look at 11. Marlborough Downs for a little more in-depth look at the wider area. The link takes you to the Wiltshire Ornithological Society website, which is well worth perusing.

As usual I will be uploading all my records to BirdTrack and WSBRC .

So, there you have it. Check out the Patchwork Challenge blog, to see what I'm up against (gulp). I will shortly be providing a map of my patch area. This shows the area around the reserve, from which I will make my patch of roughly 3 grid squares.