Thursday, 21 January 2021

Biting the bullet

The 3km circle based on the shape of a square. All is explained...

They're all at it, all of my blogging chums - Seth, Jono, Stewart, Gavin, Dylan - you can see their blogs over on the right hand side of the screen under the 'Worthy Blogs' tab. And what have they all been up to? Adopting lockdown recording areas, close to home and in the spirit of community welfare, that's what. And all credit to them for doing so. Some of them have decided to record in an area within a five kilometre circumference from home - others have plumped to go imperial and swap kilometres for miles. As for me, I’ve dithered about somewhat. At the end of last year I’d decided to keep within my Uber patch, but that is an area where the extremities need a car journey. After the early-January lockdown I switched to my mini-Uber patch, the furthest point being maybe two-hours on foot from home. But, in light of the way that this pandemic is evolving, there was no way that I now feel comfortable in exploring even the mini-Uber edges, so it was time for a rethink.

Looking at the OS maps, the five km and/or mile options were explored. To put it simply, the five km/miles to the north of me is largely built-up, where as those to the west, south and east are not. I also tend not to wander too far west or east of me, with most of my interest laying to the south. The more I looked at these circles on the maps, the more I realised that I needed to address the elephants in the room - the waste of some of the space within them and the lack of 'real' birding sites anywhere. Beddington lay another two miles further on, Holmethorpe even a little bit further. In some ways, this acceptance of the best birding being just too far away was a relief - the need to push the elasticity of the circle was not necessary. It almost made more sense to withdraw the boundary even more and to concentrate on a smaller area which would give these modest birding areas better coverage. Any water that I could hope to watch over would come courtesy of a handful of small ponds. Most of my most attractive habitat would be patches of farmland, downland and copse. It's what fate has decreed to be my local patches over the coming weeks (or even months). 

I looked at the OS again, selected my closest ‘patches’ that I believe can provided some ornithological relief, and tied them all together in a package - a square package. My home just happens to sit on the boundary of a square, both on the vertical baseline and start of the horizontal axis (the easting and northing). So, I will venture 3 single km squares in each direction, my home ‘sitting’ in the middle of a 6km x 6km square (vaguely equivalent to a 3km circle from home). And why didn’t I just draw a circle like everybody else? No reason, although I do have 36 equal-sized 1km recording units at my disposal.

I did start with the idea of listing all of the plants and moths that I come across, but now I'm not so sure. I'll see how it all goes. Recording plants along suburban roads is a rewarding pastime, but I don't think that stopping and starting, kneeling down and examining a specimen through a hand-lens is the way to behave at the moment. Such behaviour is fine out in the open, but 60% of my area will not be open.

Perverse as ever, I'll start tomorrow. It's a small area, perfectly coverable but large enough to keep me on my toes. I know that there is a decent Ring-necked Parakeet roost somewhere. How many Blackcaps are wintering in my 3km 'circle'? What, exactly, is out there? Let's find out...

6 comments:

Dylan Wrathall said...

Kilometres, miles - garden or patch - it really doesn't matter as long as you are looking at wildlife and enjoying the experiences. This blogging lark has certainly made an indelible mark and now we seem to be embarked upon a repeat journey into putting a positive spin on the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. We might be very different individuals, but the common denominator of outdoor hobbies, ensures we promote a passion which is worth sharing?
Take care, stay safe & keep blogging - Dyl

Gibster said...

I have to say, I really did tussle with the idea of setting up a nice, easily definable eastings/northings square rather than a circle bisecting all of my outlying tetrads. But sod it, in the end I went with the circle. I do think you've chosen wisely, and I'm glad to see you enter the fray. Following with interest, buddy. And if you need help with recording spreadsheets, don't ask me. I seem to have around 140 of them at the moment, all dedicated to my 5MR, haha!

Jonathan Lethbridge said...

I might start this weekend. Although snow is forecast....

Steve Gale said...

I have enjoyed, or am looking forward to, all that you boys have and can offer - vicarious lockdown natural history thrills!

Gavin Haig said...

I'm with you in spirit, Steve. Just no defined area, other than my garden list. Great little video by the way. 😊

Steve Gale said...

Thanks Gav. I await your findings with interest- if Cirl Bunting isn’t enough already!