Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bramhope revisited - and the importance of comprehensive note taking

A bright morning walk to revisit old haunts round Bramhope. I walk I used to do periodically from the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s. Walking down Long Meadows a loud screeching turned out to be from a Little Owl sat in a tree on the edge of the field. Then past Old Rushes Farm. This used to be a tumble down couple of barns but is now all done up and inhabited, not just by people but by a small flock of Tree Sparrows. Up to Paul's Pond and a Little Grebe in with the Tufted Duck and Canadas. Up to the slopes of Golden Acre Park, and where once children sledged down a grassy slope there are now trees of all shapes and sizes, and consequently a family party of Bullfinch and a Nuthatch. Up to Lineham Farm where two Willow Chiffs hooet-ed in the bushes, back to Bramhope where an Oystercatcher flew high over.

I checked my records. I used to have Little Owl at the tumble-down Old rushes Farm, clearly not one there now. My records showed Tree Sparrows at nearby Adle Dam but no records from anywhere on the walk, and to be honest I have absolutely no recollection of seeing Tree Sparrows at the Dam. And no flying over Oystercatcher records either. Add the Ubiquitous Red Kites and that's four new species-records for the walk. In addition I had Nuthatch calling from all reasonable size bits of woodland (about 5 in total). I have Nuthatch records from Adle Dam but not anywhere else.

So has there genuinely been an increase in Tree Sparrows and Nuthatches? I'm just not sure my old records are comprehensive enough. If I'd done then what I do now, which is to regularly record all birds seen on my standard patch walk, I may have a reasonable basis for comparison.

If I could go back in time and have a word with my younger self, I would say - just once in a while, record everything you see. Things that seem commonplace and dull today may become of great interest in later years. And you will need to know that if its not on that list, that means it wasn't observed, not that you couldn't be bothered to note it.