IntroductionA Timed Species Count is a method of measuring relative abundance of a species in a particular area over a fixed time period. The recommended time is an hour and species are recorded only once in this period. The hour is divided into ten minute blocks and a score is allocated to each block as follows:-
First 10 minutes = 6points
10 to 20 minutes = 5points
20 to 30 minutes = 4points
30 to 40 minutes = 3points
40 to 50 minutes = 2points
50 to 60 minutes = 1point
eg: A species first seen in the first 10 minute period would be allocated 6 points. This species is not recorded again in the hour period. A different species seen from 10.01 to 20.00 min would score 5 points and so on...
The idea is that the more abundant species will be seen sooner than other species. Counts are undertaken at different times of the day to cover species activity. A minimum of 15 counts are taken where a mean figure is calculated. The higher the mean score the more abundant the species is in the area.
I considered several areas to carry out the surveys but concluded that a known area for birdwatching would be more suitable. There would be a relatively high number of species present due to the management of the habitats.
MethodI have chosen Beddington Farm to carry out the counts. My knowledge of this area is excellent and I am familiar with the species that are likely to be present. Three areas of Beddington Farm have been chosen to represent various habitats in the area.
I will aim to carry out a count once a week which would cover the Autumn period in the UK.
A key factor when considering time periods is the variation in daylight hours as the seasons progress. Completion of counts requires a 3hour slot to produce some consistency in weather conditions between the three areas. Traditionally bird activity is higher after first light and in the last hours before dusk.
Three time periods have been defined but will fluctuate according to the number of daylight hours available on the day a count is to be taken. The time periods are as follows:-
Morning - Dawn until 1300hrs.
Afternoon - 1300 until 1700hrs
Evening - 1700 until dusk.
It is proposed to carry out five counts during each of these time zones.
This method is fully described in the book of BIRD CENSUS TECHNIQUES by Bibby, Hill & Mustoe.
This is an enclosed area where access is gained via a key through gates. There are two areas of water Jim's Bed which is situated between the North entrance and the Go-kart track.
The Mitigation Scrape fluctuates in the amount of water it holds dependent on rainfall.
The remainder of the area consists of sludge beds which again vary in the amount of water they hold. Some beds are dry almost all year round but again this depends how much sludge is deposited in them throughout the year.
A substantial reed bed has grown in one of these beds. The dry beds vary in the amount of foliage contained within.
North and South Lakes
Both these lakes are view able from the Permissible footpath both having been re developed in recent years.
The North lake is traditionally where the small contingent of birdwatchers congregate. The islands are higher on this lake but this is the deeper of the two lakes. The West side is lined with trees and a reed bed.
The South lake has had extensive planting of reed beds some which are thriving. A mix of trees have recently been planted on the Mound which lines the East side of this lake.