Brit Catchment Baseline Survey
Back in 2022 we received funding from Rewilding Britain to undertake a baseline survey of the wider Brit Catchment. This work involved creating a GIS of existing data, commissioning an above-ground carbon assessment and undertaking a farmland and woodland bird survey.
We will put results up here as they develop. For any questions please contact us.
Baseline monitoring of breeding bird abundance in the Brit Catchment
Undertaken by Professor Tom Brereton and some outstanding volunteers from the Bridport Bird Group, the report you can download here is the first undertaken to establish a baseline of breeding bird populations in the Brit Catchment, adopting the BBS sampling approach and survey method. If you download the report, please remember that the photos are Tom's copyright.
Tom's key results are:
There were 5967 birds counted across 38 visits to 19 squares, with 79 species recorded generating 7713 bird records. Based on our extensive local knowledge of species distributions, 70 of the species were likely to be breeding within the catchment whilst eight were passage migrants/foraging visitors.
Breeding species included 13 Red Listed (highest conservation concern) and 19 Amber List (medium priority) species, respectively representing 23% and 22% of the UK total for each list. Nationally scarce Firecrest was also detected. Important breeding species present in steep national/regional decline included: Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer (both farmland specialists), Marsh Tit, Spotted Flycatcher and Willow Warbler, (woodland/woodland edge). Dipper, which is at it’s eastern range margin in southern England, was another noteworthy find. Raven, which has less than 8000 pairs breeding in the UK, was found in over half of the squares, qualifying the area as a stronghold.
The most widespread species were Woodpigeon, Blackbird and Robin, being recorded in every square. The most abundant species were Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw and Rook.
The most species-rich sites were at West Milton and Slape Manor/Melplash, with both squares having good habitat diversity. Wetland birds were thin on the ground, chiefly being seen at West Bay where Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler and Mallard were detected. The pond at Mappercombe held Mute Swan and Tufted Duck.
A good variety of species were recorded in most squares (mean 32 species per square), reflecting the prevalence of mixed farming, copses, thick hedgerows and good quality town and village gardens. Records of Marsh Tit from five squares, Yellowhammer from eight squares and a population of Corn Buntings were particularly encouraging.
However, the complete absence of once common species from squares and the wider catchment such as Cuckoo, Lapwing, Grey Partridge, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Turtle Dove (bar singleton at Mappercombe briefly) and Tree Sparrow highlights the scale of the challenge for nature recovery in the future.