Thursday, 31 January 2013

January roundup

After a lunchtime visit to Inverkeithing we have the closed lists for January (barring some kind of owl encounter or nocturnal audio contact)

Total complete lists submitted to Birdtrack: 27

Total lists submitted for Inverkeithing:14
Total lists submitted for Cullaloe: 4
Total lists submitted for Hill of Beath: 7

Total species recorded Inverkeithing: 58
Total species recorded Cullaloe: 36
Total species recorded Hill of Beath: 46

Total points Inverkeithing: 62 (+1 pt. for Eider (?!), RT Diver, Shag (?!) and Peregrine)
Total points Cullaloe: 37 (+1 pt. for Merlin)
Total points Hill of Beath: 48 (+1 pt. each for Waxwing, Whooper Swan)

Percentage of target species seen - Inverkeithing: 46%
Percentage of target species seen - Cullaloe: 36%
Percentage of target species seen - Hill of Beath: 66%

Hill of Beath target was probably set too low although as an unknown quantity it wasn't put forward to the actual challenge (might be next year though). Inverkeithing has done better than January of last year, with 5 more species, but none of them were likely to go unrecorded throughout the year anyway. Cullaloe seems to be way behind, but the number of visits has been low and it has already seen two species which only had one previous record for the site - watch for it coming up on the rails.

Most enjoyable thing about the patch focus has been recording birds which otherwise would have gone unrecorded. Of course this will largely relate to commoner birds, but it has also produced Waxwings, an unexpected Dipper and a very unexpected Merlin, as well as forcing me to root out Woodcock at two sites which I kind of knew were there anyway. I hope I can get the hat-trick by discovering a site in my Inverkeithing patch. From some other visits made for Winter Thrush survey (the missing lists from the arithmetic above) I also managed to log a few unexpected species in a quite unpromising quadrant.

When the three patches are combined there's a total of 75 species and 82 points. If only Birdtrack was capable of combining patches into a megapatch the way eBird can (and didn't insist that patches fit into squares!)

22 species were recorded in all three patches (Blackbird, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coal Tit, Cormorant, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Herring Gull, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Lesser Redpoll, Mallard, Mute Swan, Robin, Siskin, Starling, Woodpigeon, Wren, Yellowhammer) and others probably would have been with enough visits (e.g. Feral Pig, BH Gull, Heron & Linnet missing from Cullaloe). Most surprising from that list seems to be Lesser Redpoll. Less surprising was the number of species linked with the coast which didn't show inland (RT Diver, Eider, Scoter, waders and wintering grebes).

A fair amount of these apparent gaps will be filled throughout the year so that the three locations will share a species list but with different uses through their annual cycles. It will be interesting to see grebes shift from coast to inland water and back again.

More geekiness ... don't know how to generate this graph, so here's the numbers ...

All three sites: 22 species

HOB and CUL: 5 species
HOB and INK: 13 species
CUL and INK: 3 species

HOB only: 6 species
INK only: 20 species
CUL only: 6 species

Conclusion - species shared only by HOB and CUL are less likely at INK in winter  (e.g. Moorhen, Coot). However, all of the species shared by INK and HOB are also reasonably findable at CUL, giving the misleading impression that INK and HOB are more similar. This could have been rectified by more visits to Cullaloe. However, since it's harder to get to than HOB (near my house) and INK (near my work) it requires effort to maintain the balance. This will be easier with lighter mornings and evenings.

Species unique to each site are not surprisingly associated with unique features - for INK the coast (Eider, RT Diver, Redshank), for CUL larger inland water, reeds, a stream (Water Rail, Dipper) and for HOB a flooded field and farmland (Whoopers, Mistle Thrush). It will be interesting to see how unique features tie into species pairings throughout the year.

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