Farm News  |   April 29, 2023

Update on the Bird Survey

Good news from the early birds who made it to the March bird survey walk…

When the alarm goes off ridiculously early to alert you that you have to get up and get out to meet John Frank at Lauriston Farm for a breeding bird survey, you won’t regret the dawn start.

John is a local resident who came to plant trees at the farm, and when he offered to do an annual breeding bird survey we were keen to enlist him. He has been honing his bird ID skills since he was a boy in Canada and has a very finely tuned ear for birdsong.

On 25th March a small group of early risers accompanied John on a fixed route around the farm and tuned into the acoustic world of birds. At the start by the Toby Carvery car park we picked up the laid back jazzy song of the robin, a couple of cackling magpies, the incredibly forceful song of the tiny wren, a squeaky wheelbarrow great tit, wood pigeon, carrion crow and a couple of mute swan flying low overhead. The next treat was a male skylark singing and displaying out of site above us in the low mist. We heard the wonderful haunting call of curlews feeding in the soft ground in an adjacent field and in the scrubby north boundary of the farm we saw 3 reed buntings – not recorded last year. Later by the castle wall we picked up our first migrant – the chiffchaff – back in Scotland and singing its distinctive chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff song.

In all, we recorded 32 species – almost 20% higher than on the first count last year (on 2 April 2022) of 26 species. We take this as a vote of confidence from the bird world that the habitat creation measures are making a difference and encouraging new species to move in.

Taking the time to tune into birdsong makes for a very different experience when out walking, and it is worth making the effort to get out early.

We know places on the walks book up very fast, and hope you can get the chance to join us if you’d like to.

Here are some excellent resources for learning the more common urban species which you might like to try out and then test your skills in the field…


Click here to go to the Natural History Museum guide to 20 common songs and calls

Click here to go to the RSPB birdsong identifier


Click here to go to the British Library collection of articles on birdsong and what it all means

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