Surveying for birds and spiders

The first full day of our National Trust Working Holiday at Clumber Park and it was time to get out and survey.

This morning we were joining regular Clumber border, Trevor, to record the birds for the BTO’s Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS).

This is a regular survey, undertaken on the same day by recorders around the country. Trevor surveys the wetland birds on Clumber’s Lake, created in the 1700s by damming the River Poulter. We walked around the lake, stopping at various points with a food view across a section of the lake to count how many birds of each species we could see. The most frequent birds were Canada Geese, but there were also Mute Swam, Greylag Geese, Mallards, Cormorants, Common Terns, Grey Herons, Moorhens, Coots,  Black Headed Gulls and, my favourites, Great Crested Grebes and Tufted Ducks.​

As we counted by the lake a very friendly Robin darted nearby, hopping almost under our feet, checking to see if we had anything for him.​

​On a tree next to the path, an unexpected and delighting sight, a swarm of wild honeybees, massing together against the tree, gently buzzing. By the time we came back that way they were gone, a brief glimpse at a natural marvel.


By the water’s edge mint grew, perfect for a refreshing cuppa at lunchtime. And along the path we spotted one lonely common spotted orchid, beautiful petals scrawled with delicate patterning. 

I enjoyed our morning surveying the lake, the concentrated act of counting hundreds of waterbirds was almost meditative and it’s definitely something I’d like to get involved with in the future.

After a break for lunch, it was time for a survey of a different kind. This time of a creature feared by many, which I know little about. It was time to see what spiders were hiding in The Lings, an area of heath within the park.

We swept through the vegetation with nets, surprises hiding in the long grasses, under the tree leaves, amongst the prickly gorse.

Spiders are not something I am scared of but they are not something I have looked at in detail before either. Today my eyes were opened to how fascinating they are, how many different varieties with intricate patterning, stunning eyes and complex habits. Just look at these awesome creatures!

Also lurking were ladybirds, shieldbugs, beetles, damselflies and grasshoppers. With every sweep of the net something else interesting came to light. A plethora of interesting beasties.

I had a great day surveying and learnt a lot, mostly how much more there is to know! 

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