There were always two parts to the NZ26 challenge. Overall number of species in the 10km square and the second part being the number of species per tetrad. The aim this month was to spend more time in the most bird rich tetrads to boost the overall total. So it was not a surprise to find that having seen 65 species in January I managed to see 77 in February, but only managed to get to 16 of the 25 tetrads. Bird of the month and may well turn into bird of the year was a Goshawk. Walking north from Bill Quay along the river when I cam out of the clump of trees the Herring Gulls were going crazy. Flying around screaming something was quite obviously and literally up. Circling low as though it had come across the river was a Goshawk. I will never know where it came from but it definitely was not a Sparrowhawk. It continued to drift out over Hebburn.
At the end of the month a second special bird appeared for a cameo apperance. In watergate Park I had just congratulated myself on getting Water Rail and was walking back to Whickham. As I looked in one of the drainage ditches there was a Jack Snipe. It proceeded to do its mechanical walk away from me.
My overall total stands at 80 species and 1360 submissions to bird track. The picture shows how these pan out across the tetrads. There is a bias in submissions to the SW corner of the square as this includes two tetrads that get covered at least once per week as I walk to work. And there is a slight bias in the Gateshead side of the river as this is easier to get to at lunch or now, after work. The low submission tetrads of u -Longbenton is basically from one January visit. The low submission from i.- is because I have done this when I have covered other tetrads and really only covered the Town Moor part. There are not many species out there in the winter, and possibly the summer too, but that surprise is still to happen. As for the number of species the high scores in the SW represent a combination of more visits a and b and a wide variety of habitats b and f. High scores in e, g, w and z also reflect the diverse habitats. So the picture looks like this. Top grid is number of submissions (white less than 100, progressively greyer as the 100s pass by). The bottom grid is the number of species seen in each tetrad (pink is a square I have seen more than 25 species) The aim in March is to get the low scoring tetrads up to 25 species each (the white squares in the second table). For some squares this will be just a matter of more time in the squares as the birds are there to be found. I know there are reports of nuthatch, kingfisher and Goosander in tetrads where I do not have these species. Also there is a long eared owl or two waiting to be added so watch this space. However for some tetrads such as Blakelaw, Benwell and Fenham it is going to be hard work to get higher scores here with them being more urban and with less diverse habitats. However it is still fun trying.