The last few weeks have seen the second and third of our formal Grafton Wood winter egg counts. Numbers of eggs recorded have generally been well up on last year, and in some cases in record numbers.

On Sunday 29th December we had our annual ‘New Year’ egg count. This event was as usual, very well attended, with the added attraction of not only mulled wine and mince pies, but this year with the introduction of homemade Sloe Gin as well!

The key search areas on this day were the Orchard and surrounding hedgerows. Some of these hedges, together with the areas searched on 17th November, constitute the ‘core Grafton Count’, a series of annual timed searches that consistently go all the way back to the 1970’s. Over 260 eggs were counted on the day at Grafton, with the result that the total ‘core hedgerow’ count of 234 (up from 183 last year) ended up as the highest since 2010/11 and the second highest since 2006/7.

A major highlight of the day (apart from the Sloe Gin) was the discovery of a cluster of six eggs on a small sucker growing in a ditch. This is the second time in four years that a ‘sixer’ has been found in the Grafton area. 

Last Saturday, our final organised weekend search of the winter took place with the aim of finishing our searches within Grafton Wood itself, along with carrying out a detailed search of a known hotspot area on the edge of the wood. A huge amount of management work within the wood - consisting mainly of widening the rides, cutting scallops into them and generally coppicing old blackthorn stands - has been carried out over the last few years with the aim of encouraging Brownies into the interior. So it was going to be interesting to see what effect this had had on egg numbers. Again, the event was well attended, attracting four new faces to our streakers group.

The results of this search were simply amazing! A record total of 170 eggs were found inside the wood which, when added to the 9 found on our first search in November, took the total ‘interior count’ to 179 - easily beating last years’ total of 86 which at the time, was the highest ever recorded.

However, this was not the end of our record breaking feats for the day. Over the last three years we have been monitoring a sheltered ‘paddock’ on the edge of the wood which, despite the presence of a lot of somewhat unpromising, old and overgrown blackthorn has consistently revealed surprising numbers of eggs and, last summer, sightings of both male and female adults. A detailed search of this area on Saturday gave us the staggering total of 198 eggs (compared to 40 last winter); which in turn took our total for the day to 368 - a single day record for Worcestershire!

Our total count now for Grafton Wood and the immediate surrounding hedgerows stands at 765 - the challenge is now on to reach the magic 1000.…..

Photographs courtesy of Mel Mason, Mike Williams and Gillian Thompson.


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