Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group

01-03-2016: The Birds…of Kingston and Dorset

The KU bird count in numbers
As promised last month, we've brought you the comparison between the bird counts for Kingston University sites and those surveyed by the pupils of Wimborne First School.

At first glance the tables appear very different, but closer examination of the data appear to suggest that the results aren't as different as they would first appear or as we would expect.
Kingston University results
Wimborne First School results
The average number of species seen across the two groupings of counts is just over 8 birds per count.

The number of species in the town counts just pips the ones seen in the Dorset Count, at 27 compared with 25 species. This difference might be accounted for by more exact identifications of the gull species seen in the urban sites.

The type of species seen doesn't appear to differ drastically between the two counts. Though higher numbers of individual species appear to have been seen in the Dorset count, these may not be statistically significant -any help from statisticians will be welcome :)

The similarities between the ‘town’ and ‘country’ results may be (depending if you are a glass half full or half empty type of thinker) an indication that:

  1. Areas in London in and around Kingston University sites being greener then expected of most urban sites, or 
  2. The effects of urbanisation or habitat changes affecting species in areas traditionally considered countryside, being greater then we (consciously) think.

Updates of the UK and England bird indicators based on population trends of wild birds, were published on October 2015. The trends appear to support the fact that populations of farmland birds have suffered dramatic declines since the 1970’s. 

It may be these changes along with others seen in the update (read the key messages from the 2015 update here) which have resulted in the count results of our very small sample being more similar then we would expect. 

Another possibility is that the species that we are spotting are the ones that are more capable of surviving in habitats which are undergoing constant modifications by people. 

We plan to continue the counts next year as part of the 2017 RSPB Bird Garden Bird Watch. It will be interesting to see how three years’ worth of data compares.

Don’t forget to sign up for next year’s count. I'm happy to take names in advance and contact you closer to the time :)

I would like to finish by saying thank you to all of the staff, students and local residents who surveyed the Kingston University sites; and the staff, students and parents of Wimborne First school do surveyed sites around Dorset. Without all of your help we wouldn't have been able to undertake 


  1. Hi Sivi. sorry I missed this opportunity! One thought - should 'common gull' be 'herring gull' in the KU count? Paul

  2. Hi Paul, thanks for commenting, we'll be doing the count again next year so you can sign up today :)
    The common gulls that were idenitfied could be herring gulls, givne that they can look similar, but I've had to go on people's idenitficaiton of the species in the counts. Common gulls are also starting to be seen more and more in urban areas, and with the location of the river being very close to some of our sites, I wouldn't be surprised if they were common gulls that people saw. I was surprised that no herring gulls were spotted at all.