Thursday, 7 January 2010

West Bexington bird survey

Last year, my birding friend Jane and I got chatting and decided we'd do a couple of bird surveys together. One of the survey tetrads that we decided to go for was on the south coast in the county of Dorset. We thought it would be fun and interesting to experience a bird survey along the coast. The map below shows our square, centered around the sleepy village of West Bexington. The idea is to cover as much different habitat as possible within the allotted area. So we devised a route that would take in the beachfront, a reedbed, footpaths, minor roads and the village.
We started our route at the beach car park in the village. We soon picked up Robin, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Song Thrush, Winter Wren and Stonechat in this area.This is the view westward from the car park along the beach.The beach consists of small pebbles which is very tiring to walk along so........
......we decided to walk just off the beach along the side of the reedbed which was much easier going. We still wanted to record any birds on the beach and at sea, so occasionally we'd walk up the sloping beach to take note of any birds we'd have missed otherwise.
The reedbed proved quite productive even in winter with both Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler being heard. In spring this will hopefully be alive with many more birds!The reedbed had some open fresh water where we had a nice selection of ducks and gulls.In the distance in the photo below you can see the caravan park which we would be aiming for later in the survey.There were quite a few birds feeding in this weedy area...... Dunnocks, Goldfinches, Reed Buntings and Meadow Pipits. I'd have loved to find a Snow Bunting amongst them, but alas, not on this occasion. (-:One of our searches out to sea. On this day, we were quite disappointed to find that there was nothing to record out at sea. We did have a nice selection of gulls roosting on the beach though.........Black-headed, Common, Herring, Lesser black-backed and Great black-backed.
At the end of the fresh water lake our route took us inland along coastal footpaths. This is where the map wasn't very helpful. We had been hoping to take the marked footpath just before that inland lake (see first map), but that was totally under water and impassable. So we carried on hoping to take the red dotted footpath that was showing just outside of our survey square. We would stop counting birds until we'd walked back into our square. We were therefore surprised to find this coastal path sign directly after the end of the fresh water lake. As this was still in our square, but not showing on the map, we decided to take it and see where it would lead us. I'm glad I wasn't on my own as the footpath wasn't always obvious. Landowners on the whole though are fairly casual about trespass so long as you respect the countryside you're walking through and shut any gates etc.These fields and the scrubby hedgerows surrounding them were surprisingly quiet birdwise. I did manage to snap a shot of an obliging Robin. I'm sure that come springtime, there will be alot more activity.This is a view looking back down the hill towards the sea. If you look closely, you can see the slightly darker area of grass in the middle of this field which indicates a used footpath, so I guess we were where we should be....more or less! (-:Having walked through the caravan park not shown on the map, but just below Swyre, we ended up on the yellow minor road walking back towards West Bexington (see first map).As hoped for, we added quite a few more species in the village, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Collared Doves. Here the Herring Gulls found the house roofs to be handy perches.Obviously a good place for a natter and other more essential functions! (-:
After just over two hours walking, it was very nice to sit in this convenient cafe for a welcome cup of coffee. I'm really looking forward to the three other times we have to do this survey. Spring migration particularly could be very exciting here.

10 comments:

Chris said...

Hi Jenny,
This looks like a very promising area and I hope it will be.... I guess this is not gonna be an easy one if it rains thought ;-)

TonyC said...

My aren't you a busy birder!!
Glad you are having fun Jen.

Eve said...

I think it's very important for gulls to natter, and whatnot...
I love the views and that little robin! What a great place. These pictures are just great Jenny. Are they from the G10?
Making them big is well worth the wait!!
"Mo please" said in a soft British accent!

Roy said...

More nice scenery Jennifer, looks promising and worth a visit. We stayed in that Caravan site many years ago for a holiday.

The Early Birder said...

What a fabulous walk Jen. Just think how different it would be hunting for untread footpaths in the snow!

Jenny said...

Hi Chris, no, not alot of cover out there! I'll have to post again when I do one of the spring walks there.

Hi Tony, yep, very busy bee but I love it! (-:

Hi Evie, yes I tend to use the G10 for scenic photos and my Nikon for birds and close ups. We'll make a Brit out of you yet! (-:

Hi Roy, it's a small world isn't it! Lovely area, I'm looking forward to the other walks I have to do there later this year!

Hi Frank....hmmmm. Wouldn't be keen to find dodgy footpaths in the snow. Will have to wait for this horrible weather to go me thinks!

Rural Rambler said...

Jenny that is some beautiful countryside! Would be a beautiful walk on a warmer spring day. The little robin is sweet. Puffy and plumpy, doesn't look like our robins here. The cafe looks very interesting. Can't get food off my mind this winter.

John said...

Sounds a lovely walk Jenny, I have a feeling you could be rewarded come the Spring on the right day a fair few migrants.

John

Quiet Paths said...

What an absolutely lovely place to spend the day... I am happy you get to go back in the spring. The birds should be abundant. Wonderful photos of the strand.

Mary said...

That seems like a rather long walk and that beach would really wear the legs out. This always sounds interesting, but my knees would never make it if I tried it! Lovely shots of the gulls on the roof! I'd be too tired to carry my camera. It's nice to have someone to do the walk with.