New Sheffield survey of cuckoos, wrens & woodpeckers at local nature reserve

Volunteers at a Sheffield nature reserve have identified 37 species of bird in a new bird survey of the area.

Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 3:06 pm
Cuckoos, wrens and willow warblers detected in new survey - photo by J.Riley
Cuckoos, wrens and willow warblers detected in new survey - photo by J.Riley

Blacka Moor Nature Reserve carried out the recent survey, which was funded by money raised by National Lottery players as part of Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust’s ‘Data for Nature’ project.

The survey was carried out using the Mackinnon Lists method – a technique where surveyors walk a route of the site and make short lists of species encountered, not repeating the same species in a list. When each new list is started, the surveyors make a waypoint using a GPS, repeating species recorded in previous lists. The first few lists have lots of new species encounters in them, but by the last lists the amount of new species encountered drops to one, or zero. 37 species of bird were identified during the course of the survey, including wood warbler, tree pipit, curlew, great spotted woodpecker, and cuckoo.

Pete Tomlin, senior data management and monitoring officer said: “Our volunteer bird surveyors have done sterling work, getting up at the crack of dawn to help us monitor the bird population at Blacka Moor Nature Reserve.

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Results of the Blacka Moor bird survey are announced - photo by Derek Moore

“The data they have collected is invaluable for us, helping us get a snapshot of the reserve as it stands, and also enabling us to make quantifiable comparisons as we continue to roll our new monitoring approach across our nature reserves and of course when we repeat this survey at Blacka Moor in years to come.

“The use of the Mackinnon Lists method can tell us a few things. Firstly, we end up with a list of species recorded on site, giving us a species richness total. Secondly, the number of new species recorded will flatten out, meaning that we can be relatively sure that we have recorded the site accurately. Thirdly, we are able to map out the density of new lists started. If surveyors are getting through lists quickly, this tells us that they are encountering lots of species in a short space of time, meaning that that particular area of the site has high species richness.

!Finally, the frequency of a species occurring in all of the lists enables us to track the most common.”