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.