19 Apr 2006

Countryside Bird Survey in Donegal

120. White Wagtail Motacilla alba
121. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
122. Common Tern Sterna Hirundo

(all the above seen from Castle Island Hide on the Quoile on tuesday 18th)

Countryside Bird Survey

The Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) is a national research project being conducted by BirdWatch Ireland volunteers and NPW wildlife rangers to monitor bird population trends, throughout the Irish countryside. The project was launched in 1998 and is supported by funding from the Heritage Council, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, and previous funds from the ESB for CBS training programme.

This survey, which runs from April to June each year, provides vital scientific data on the abundance and distribution of Ireland's breeding bird populations. Longer term objectives include trend analysis and the production of indices for each breeding species. The survey runs in parallel with similar surveys in Northern Ireland and Britain and links with corresponding research work throughout Europe.

The survey uses a random set of 1km squares throughout the country. Bird data is collected in each square by walking two parallel lines (transects), with the same transects used each year. Field observers, walking these transects, record all birds seen or heard on two separate occasions., during early (April to mid-May) ad late (mid-May to June) season.

The survey methods are easy to follow and designed so that any birdwatcher with a reasonable ability in bird identification can take part. The fieldwork neatly combines science with an enjoyable morning's birding. Some 400 sample squares are allocated to almost 300 observers around the country each year. Using a simple system of counting, each square is surveyed year after year, ideally by the same observer.

Well on Monday morning I set the alarm for 5.30 and then drove to my pre determined site between Letterkenny and Derry. It was a bright morning but threatening to rain. I set off on my transects each a kilometre long divided into 200 metre sections. First I put down the birds I could see and then the birds I could hear on my field recording sheet. If you see a bird flying overhead you mark it down and put an arrow in the direction it was flying. You also fill out a fairly detailed habitat recording form. I started at 6.50 and was finished by 9.00. The second transect went fairly steeply uphill alongside forestry on one side and a grass field on the other before coming to a barbwire fence .I could not get over it as there was a ditch about eight feet deep on the other side so I decided to go into the forestry and bypass. Disaster. As soon as I got into forestry it was just Gorse and brambles everywhere underneath the pines. It took me at least 20 minutes to get fifty yards,where I emerged pricked, wet and scratched! Anyway I saw or heard pigeon,rook,crow,snipe,collared dove, numerous wrens, robins, blackbird, meadow pipit, stonechat, magpie, pheasant, goldcrest, goldfinch, house sparrows, starlings, bluetit, coaltit, great tit. Now I have to put them on the count summary sheet before going back to the site in four weeks time.
An enjoyable mornings bird watching.

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