As part of its growing surveying programme, RTCT has established its first ever regular bird survey aimed at getting a better understanding of the key wetland bird species that use the River either to breed, as a stopover on migration or to over-winter.
The River Thame offers a range of habitats from the main river channel itself to small reed beds, damp marsh, exposed muddy banks to extensive floodplain. The River acts as corridor allowing birds to move between varying habitats and it is vital that we understand the key areas on the River and how they are used.
In partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) the survey was launched in December 2015 and is part of the BTO’s national Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), so the data is not only contributing to our local plans it also helps support a long established key national survey. The Survey focuses on counting and recording all species of wetland birds (including Ducks, Geese, Waders, Gulls and Terns) on a monthly basis.
The River Thame has been divided into 16 survey sections of roughly 2/3km in length running from the source north of Aylesbury through to the confluence with the River Thames at Dorchester (over 40 miles of River).
The survey is carried out by 16 keen local birdwatchers who have done a fantastic job in getting the survey up and running. Since it started in December 2015 40 wetland bird species have been recorded on the River.
Highlights to date include : Curlew, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Jack Snipe, Snipe, Redshank, Goosander, Kingfisher, Little Egret, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Lapwing, Golden Plover
In addition surveyors send in records of non-wetland birds they have recorded and these include : Barn Owl, Peregrine, Hobby, Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Whinchat, Woodcock, Stonechat, Cuckoo, Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Yellow Wagtail
In total 111 species have been recorded – a fantastic variety of birds recorded in just 9 months of surveying and testament to the variety of habitat available across the length of the River.
Plans are underway to expand the bird surveying programme with a new long term and ambitious Atlas style project to record breeding and wintering species across the whole of the River Thame wider catchment.
If you are a keen birdwatcher and want to get involved with our exciting plans then please get in touch to chat through how you might be able to get involved. The bird surveys are overseen by Nick Marriner, please feel free to contact him directly : firstname.lastname@example.org/ 07785 527108
Many of our photographs have been taken and provided by Doug Kennedy and their copyright is owned by him. If you would like to submit your own photographs to feature on the website then please get in touch.
This work is possible thanks to the support of Thames Water.