Over the last couple of months, we have seen many blue tits – as chicks begin to hatch, each site abounds in blue tits. Though of course blue tits are a lovely sight, we have been lucky to spot a lot of other wildlife along the transect, too. We get to spend most of the day outside, field notebook at hand, recording phenology and measures of bird fitness. Meanwhile, dippers are dashing up and down streams, sometimes even a tawny owl is looking down at us, and often it’s all happening in a magical fairytale-like setting of an woodland, carpeted in bluebells.
A particularly fairytale-like moment was when we walked over to a nestbox only to find a fawn curled up among the bluebells. Magic! Of course, we quietly checked the nestbox and quickly moved away to avoid disturbance, but we’ll definitely remember seeing the fawn (aka Bambi The Bluebell) for years to come!
One day, we got up even earlier than usual in hopes of seeing a capercaillie. Well, that didn’t happen, but nevertheless, we’ve had some pretty exciting bird sightings. There’s a tawny owl at two of our sites, and we spotted a long-eared owl near another. A pair of northern wheaters greets us as we drive down a small country road towards another another site.
Some of us on the field team saw black grouse for the first time, but regardless of whether we had seen them before or not, we all find seeing and hearing the grouse thrilling.
Then there are also the golden eagles – or so Gergana has heard, she didn’t spot any, thus no eagle photos.
Since the establishment of the transect in 2014, we’ve seen 141 bird species at our sites or directly between sites along the transect. Most of us on the team spend a lot of time working away on computers, so the field season presents a wonderful opportunity to get outside, collect data, and get inspired by nature in the meantime.