Sunday, 3 January 2010

Godney Tetrad - part 1

First of all, a very Happy New Year to all my blogging friends and anyone else who has enjoyed dipping into my blog over the last year. I've really enjoyed sharing my love of the natural world with you all.
Back in December I did several BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) bird surveys which go towards a winter and breeding bird atlas. This is a four year survey covering as much of the British Isles as possible. We are now in our third year. To complete each survey square, I must do two (two hour) winter walks and two spring/summer walks. This post is about the first winter walk for the tetrad square shown below which had to be done between the first of November and the end of December. This square is located on the Somerset Levels (about 40 minutes drive west of Frome).The Google Earth map below shows the same area to be covered. I've numbered my route from start to finish. This first posting takes you from the start (1) to (5). Click to enlarge for more clarity.I started my walk at Garslade Farm and followed the footpath along this field edge. I have to record every bird I see and hear within the survey square. There were plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares along this first hedgerow.
When I reached the small rhyne, I had to cross over the small bridge in order to continue following the permissive footpath which ran north along the other side (see red dotted line on the first map).There were some lovely mature trees along here. The one below is an Ash tree which is easy to identify with it's distinctive black buds.There were also some lovely rich brown Ash 'key' seeds still left on some of the trees.I wasn't able to capture many birds while doing the survey, but this male Stonechat (as usual) posed nicely for me. Their plumage is even more striking in Spring!I loved this fallen rotting log by the side of the rhyne.Another tree that is synonymous with the Somerset Levels is the pollarded Willow. Pollarding is a way of harvesting the Willow withys to be used in basket and hurdle making.As I walked north towards Hurn Farm, a couple of helicopters flew low over the area.Luckily the birds didn't seem to get too disturbed.
At Hurn Farm (and at the top of my survey square on the first map) you can just make out that I have to cross the rhyne again (via the small bridge below) and follow the red dotted footpath westwards. There was a nice Tit flock around this area, with both Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. Below is the small rhyne that heads westwards, along the footpath to join up with the minor road going south again.Here are some Burdock seed heads which I managed to get stuck all over my fleece when I brushed past them!Walking south down the minor road, a couple of horses passed me. It made me smile to read what was on the back of the first rider's jacket given the narrow roads around here! (-: Click to enlarge the photo to read clearly. I always get a shiver up my neck and back when I have to walk under electricity pylons! At the crossroads (number 5 on the Google Earth map) I stopped to take photos of these people enjoying the beautiful winters day on their pony and traps.
I'll finish off the rest of this survey walk in my next post.


TonyC said...

Happy New Year Jen. Love the log too. looks like it was a beautiful morning.

Dog Trot Farm said...

Jenny Wren I know I must sound like a broken record, but you take us on the most interesting walks, offer photos of birds I have never heard of and the countryside literally is right out of James Herriott! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is another interesting walk with lots of possibilities for the future Jen. Lovely Stonechat.
I know what you mean about the pylons, you try walking under them with a portable radio switched on, you would then know why you get a shiver down your spine (horrible buzzing noise). I see the Commando Helicopters from Yeovilton are keeping a watchful on your activities. Looking forward to the next part post.

Rural Rambler said...

Well Jen I know you were into the birds on this survey but this post had horses in it for me and choppers for Jerry. We both enjoyed your post tonight. He is on his laptop checking it out and I am on mine. We both like the horse and cart and if I was riding on that narrow road I'd be asking peeps to pass wide and slow too! I do love the Stonechat!

Mary said...

Very informative report! I learned several things. You see so many interesting things when you go on these walks. That log was definitely a great looking one. Anything with pattern or texture or odd shape always catches my eye. I'm sure your contribution is really helpful to the survey people.

Eve said...

Great walk Jenny. I'll have to go on GE and see just how far you walked...looks like forever! Even tho the sign says to give the horses their space...I didn't see any!! I love the photos and the maps to go along with the walk. I'm waiting for more too!

John said...

Hi Jen,

Happy New Year to you, it has been a pleasure to catch up with your birding walks, more of the same during the coming year.

Reminds me of my BTO walks around were I live, something I enjoy doing, know what you mean about walking under the Pylons...


Restaurant Pizzerie Vechile Coline said...
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Chris said...

Happy new year Jenny.. You started very well on your blog with a nice post... It is nice to be able to locate the area you investigated... Well done on the stonechat ;-)

Jenny said...

Hi Tony, yes it was a perfect morning for a survey, no wind most importantly!

Hi Julie, you don't in any way sound like a broken record. It makes me feel good that you enjoy me sharing my survey walks.

Hi Roy, yes, I'm looking forward to the spring survey to see what birds turn up on that square. I don't think I'll try out your radio idea! (-:

Hi Pix and Jerry, glad it had something in there for you both. Trouble is, on those narrow roads, there literally is no where for a car to pass safely! Definitely rural Somerset at its best! (-:

Hi Mary, doing this blog has made me look alot more at different things when I go out in the countryside.

Hi Evie, I dont know how many miles I walked, but it took just over two hours, but not at a brisk walk, I'll have to get one of those pedometer thingys! (:

Hi John, have you done many tetrads? Where abouts? Would be intersted to know. It's fun to do them isn't it. Makes you walk around countryside that you might not normally.

Hi Chris, thanks, I guess Stonechats are one of the easier birds to photograph, they're so obliging! (-:

sharon said...

Hi Jenny, Happy New Year!
Your posts always make me feel guilty for not getting out more - they are so inspiring! Lovely shot of the Stonechat. Can't wait for part 2.

Quiet Paths said...

I love survey posts! Yippee. I can really get a sense of the country-side and its character with your descriptions, Jenny.

Jenny said...

Happy New Year to you too Sharon. Do you have any nice walking spots near you, that you could make a 'local patch'?

Hi Christine, well, you'll be pleased to know that I have two more tetrad walks to post about....just have to get those photos manipulated.