Local Open Day

On 26 March, we were please to hold our first local BTO Open Day at Parc Slip NR.  Over twenty members and volunteers joined us to meet friends, old and new, and share our interest in bird studies.

bbsWe were pleased to hear Dr Rob Parry of the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales describe conservation activity around the reserve as it tries to protect and create suitable breeding for little ringed plover and lapwing on this former coalfield site.

Next, Kelvin Jones, BTO Cymru’s Development Officer, gave a news update from BTO and explained how volunteers can get involved with a range of volunteer surveys.

Dan and Wayne then shared information about the House Martin Survey and Nest Record Scheme, before we all enjoyed lunch at the reserve’s excellent coffee shop.  The indoor session concluded with local updates on BBS and WeBS.

Most volunteers then opted to join one of the field exercises where we ran through the methodology involved in conducting a BBS survey or the learned the art of nest finding.  Though bird numbers were low, we were able to use the call method to detect a few species and map and habitat code our transect routes.  A partially built long-tailed tit nest, and sitting song thrush were reward the nest finders.

Thanks to all participants who made the day a success, and to those volunteering for their first BTO survey.

Good luck,  and we look forward to our next event.

March 29, 2017 at 3:28 pm 1 comment

Big Birding Day, 2017

Our friends at Glamorgan Bird Club are holding the sixth annual Big Birding Day in a few weeks time.

Big Birding Day
10:00am onwards
Sunday, 30 April 2017

Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Ton Kenfig
Bridgend
CF33 4PT

Capture

A wide range of activities will be on offer, including:

  • guided bird walks
  • bird ringing demonstration
  • children’s activities
  • plant stall
  • cake stall
  • refreshments and more ….

There is no charge, and all are welcome to come along and enjoy a day of birds at this fantastic reserve.

March 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm 1 comment

Your Holiday Records Needed

aea06d04-951c-4b77-9548-3ec7ab62723fFieldwork for the European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 concludes this summer.  EBBA2 will map the distribution and abundance of Europe’s 500+ breeding species across more than 50 countries. Huge progress has been made already, but your records are still needed to fill gaps in coverage.

Some of the countries where gaps exist, including Portugal, Greece and Turkey, are regular destinations for UK birders. Others, such as Albania, Armenia and European Russia, are further off the beaten track.

BirdTrack users can help by submitting records – with breeding evidence codes – from wherever they travel in Europe, using the global data entry tool or the new app.

Information on how, and where, birders can help is given on the EBBA2 website.

March 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm Leave a comment

Wetland Bird Survey 2016 – East Glamorgan Review

We have a fantastic team of volunteers here in our BTO region who go out once a month to do counts for the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), the monitoring scheme for non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. This survey aims to provide data for the conservation of these birds’ populations and wetland habitats. Its core period runs between September to March but I’m delighted to say that most of our volunteers in our region enjoy the survey so much that they continue doing their counts between March and August too.

So how did the team get on in 2016? Here are the headlines (2015 figures in brackets):

  • In 2016, the team of East Glamorgan WeBS volunteers consisted of 39 (37) individuals
  • In addition, Cardiff University’s Ornithological Society was allocated Roath Park Lake as its WeBS site last year and at least 7 of its members are now involved in conducting the counts there
  • Counts were submitted from 40 (39) sites across the region
  • 78 (69) species were recorded during the year on the WeBS database from our region
  • The combined total of monthly records of all species from all sites across the year was 2,916 (2,657)
  • All of which gave us a combined grand total count of 67,086 (71,281) birds

East Glamorgan WeBS: Top 20 Most Commonly Recorded Species in 2016

Species

Combined total of monthly records from all sites across the year

Combined total of birds recorded

 1. Mallard

320

9,982

 2. Moorhen

245

1,422

 3. Coot

214

6,054

 4. Mute Swan

165

3,407

 5. Canada Goose

152

5,145

 6. Lesser Black-backed Gull

147

4,493

 7. Cormorant

142

1,050

 8. Black-headed Gull

135

10,898

 9. Grey Heron

126

176

10. Herring Gull

122

5,326

11. Tufted Duck

99

3,304

12. Little Grebe

95

562

13. Great Crested Grebe

75

675

14. Grey Wagtail

72

163

15. Teal

70

1,379

16. Kingfisher

67

90

17. Water Rail

44

81

18. Goosander

35

70

19. Greylag Goose

34

778

20. Reed Bunting

34

143

As usual, Mallard was the species most commonly reported across East Glamorgan in terms of the combined number of monthly records across all sites across the year  and, although the counting of gulls is optional for the survey, Black-headed Gull with 10,898 came top of the pile in terms of the highest combined total of individual birds recorded.

talygarn-lake

We’re looking for a volunteer to count Talygarn Lake, near Pontyclun

Compared to 2015, there were increases in the number of volunteers, sites visited, the number of species recorded and the combined number of records submitted. However, the combined total of all birds of all species recorded (67,086) was 4,195 lower than in 2015 (71,281). The three biggest losers, in the Top 20 most commonly recorded species were Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Mallard. The figures for the majority of other species in the Top 20 look remarkably similar, or up on, those of 2015.

Amongst the locally scarcer birds to be recorded were:  a long-staying Long-tailed Duck and Lesser Scaup at Cardiff Bay; Little Ringed Plover and Curlew Sandpiper at Ogmore Estuary; a Great Northern Diver and Common Scoter at Rest Bay, Porthcawl ; Mandarin Duck at Michaelstone-le-Pit Salmon Leaps and Bittern at Cosmeston Lakes and Kenfig Pool.  The volunteers at Kenfig can also lay claim to the scarcest bird seen during a WeBS count in our region in 2016: a Temminck’s Stint.

WeBS is a great survey to undertake if you’ve never done a bird survey before or if you’re an old hand. If you’re interested in taking part in 2017 please have a look at the East Glamorgan WeBS page where you’ll find more information about available wetland sites and please feel free to get in touch for more information.

March 5, 2017 at 12:16 pm 1 comment

National Nest Box Week 2017

14 February marks the start of the 20th annual National Nest Box Week, organised by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Putting up a nest box or two during the week can provide not only a nesting site for a number of species but, if you also spend a little bit of time monitoring the outcome of your occupied boxes, even just one box, you could also make a valuable contribution to the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme.

Many of us will have at least one nest box in our gardens and, if we’re lucky enough to have it occupied, we delight in watching the adult birds tirelessly feeding their young. Best of all is seeing newly fledged chicks from the box and feeling that you have helped nature in some way. Thanks to the support of the Glamorgan Bird Club (GBC) I’ve been able to take this one step further and erect several nest boxes in areas outside my own garden.

nestboxes-on-floodplain-003

Erecting nest boxes near Radyr (Photo: DJJ)

Coinciding with National Nest Box Week, GBC holds a nest box making session at Kenfig NNR every February using timber kindly donated by Topstak. The Club donates these boxes to various bodies including local schools, Welsh children’s hospice Tŷ Hafan and, since 2014, it has kindly given a number of boxes to me. These boxes, in addition to those donated by RSPB Cymru, have enabled me to establish a small ‘nest box scheme’ in Coryton and Radyr near Cardiff.

GBC will be holding a Nest Box Making Workshop at Kenfig NNR on Saturday, 18 February at 9 a.m. If you want to build a box for your back garden or you already have, or want to create your own, nest box scheme why not go along?

I’m delighted to say that birds clearly admire the GBC’s and RSPB’s carpentry skills with the last three years having the following occupancy rates: 14 of 15 boxes (2014); 15 of 16 (2015) and 23 of 24 (2016). As you’d expect, the occupants are almost always Blue or Great Tits, although a Nuthatch did fledge 6 young from a box in Coryton in 2016.

I monitor each box for the Nest Record Scheme (NRS) which gathers vital information on the breeding success of Britain’s birds, always adhering to the Scheme’s strict Code of Conduct to ensure that I do not affect the outcome of the nest. This means that I visit each box c.4-6 times a season to ascertain its history: whether it was successful or not (and, if it was unsuccessful, at what stage did it fail); the date on which the first egg was laid in each box; the maximum clutch size; the maximum number of chicks hatched and the number of chicks fledged.

blue-tits-in-a-box-cropped-djj

A healthy brood of Blue Tits (Photo: DJJ)

Even though I’ve only been monitoring these boxes for three years, the information gathered is fascinating. I’ve extracted some of the data for Blue Tit and placed them in the table below. (*A “successful nest” is one which fledged at least on juvenile).

Blue Tit
Year
Occupied boxes
Successful nests*
Earliest egg date
Total no. of eggs
Av. no. of eggs per box
Total number of pulli
Total number fledged
Av. no. fledged per nest
2014
8
5
7 April
77
9.6
67
43
5.4
2015
9
6
10 April
76
8.4
65
50
5.6
2016
9
5
14 April
69
7.7
59
39
4.3

 

Even from such a small sample, it appears that Blue Tits have had some challenging breeding seasons locally between 2014-16. The species only has one brood a year (rarely 2) and lays on average 8-10 eggs. As you can see, the egg totals in my boxes in 2014-15 are within that average range, but numbers in most nests were below average in 2016. What is worrying is that the fledging rate is so low: an average of only 4.3 juvs in 2016. One thing I have noticed is that there is a very fine line between success and failure. Just a day or two of wet weather at the wrong time can lead to significant chick mortality and nest failure. I saw this happen in 2014 and again in 2016 and it’s remarkable how my records at a local level were replicated across the UK.

The BTO’s preliminary report on the 2016 breeding season shows that, during the critical period when several bird species were nesting, temperatures were low and rainfall high, affecting the availability of the caterpillars and grubs they rely on to feed their chicks. The number of chicks produced by Blue Tits nationally in 2016 was down by 31% relative to the five-year average (2011–15).

Why not give it a go?

Monitoring these nestboxes for the NRS has been absolutely fascinating. It has added a new dimension to my birding and given me a real insight into the lives of Blue and Great Tits. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to do it for many years and be able to learn so much more from comparing my records over a longer period of time. I’d recommend to all birders marking National Nest Box Week by erecting a nest box or two and monitoring them, no matter what your skill level. The BTO really does need the records from your nest boxes. You don’t have to visit them 4-6 times in a season. Even records from two visits provide the BTO with useful data.  If you’re interested, please visit www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nrs for more information or get in touch with me. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Dan Jenkins-Jones

February 12, 2017 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

Come and Meet Us

We are pleased to be hosting our first BTO Glamorgan Open Day.  An opportunity for members, volunteers and all with an interest in bird studies to meet like-minded people, and get a taste of one or more of the BTO’s volunteer surveys.

10:00am – 2:00pm
Sunday, 26 March 2017

Parc Slip Nature Reserve
Fountain Road
Aberkenfig
Bridgend CF32 0EH

Birdwatchers
Birdwatchers by Ken Mattison on Flickr

 

Kelvin Jones, BTO Cymru’s Development Officer, will be attending, and we plan to have both indoor and outdoor activities, including a quiz, some short presentations and practical survey exercises around the reserve.

Dr Rob Parry of the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales will also bring us up to date with bird conservation activity around the the reserve, including the latest on the Lapwing Project.

The event is free of charge, but spaces are limited so please book early to secure a place.

Programme

Indoor activities

10:00am
Welcome
Wayne Morris

10:10am
Bird conservation developments at Parc Slip NR
Dr Rob Parry, Conservation Manager, WTSWW

10:30am
BTO news
Kelvin Jones, Development Officer, BTO Wales

10:50am
Getting involved in BTO surveys
Kelvin Jones, Development Officer, BTO Wales

11:20am
House Martin Survey
Daniel Jenkins-Jones

11:30am
Nest Records Scheme
Wayne Morris, BTO Regional Representative in East Glamorgan
Daniel Jenkins-Jones

12:00pm
Lunch
Bring your own, or use Parc Slip NR coffee shop

12:45pm
Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)
Wayne Morris

13:30pm
Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS)
Daniel Jenkins-Jones

13:55pm
How you can support BTO
Kelvin Jones

Outdoor activities

Bring binoculars, notepad and boots.  Sample survey forms will be provided.

14:00pm
Survey taster sessions

  • BirdTrack
  • BBS
  • WeBS
  • NRS
  • etc

Kelvin Jones, Wayne Morris, Daniel Jenkins-Jones

January 19, 2017 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

I found these interesting . . . .

Just a couple of things I picked up online this week which may be of interest:

BBC Radio 4 Living World: Nest Finder of Dartmoor

Mark Lawrence is a brilliant nest finder and contributes 100s of Nest Records to the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme.  The nests he finds are hidden deep in the bracken, gorse and grass of Dartmoor. But how does he find them? Lionel Kelleway goes on a nest-finding expedition with Mark to watch him in action. In just one morning Mark and Lionel find Pipits’ nests, two of which have been taken over by Cuckoo chicks; a Whinchat brood just hatched and finally a nest of young Grasshopper Warbler chicks.

Click here to listen to the programme: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tcy3n

If you’ve never tried nest recording before and this programme enthuses you, you may be interested in taking part in our Nest Recording Taster Day in Rudry, Caerphilly in May. The date of which will be published on this blog very soon.

grasshopper-warbler-keith-vaughton

Grasshopper Warbler ringed at Oxwich (Photo: Keith Vaughton)

Oxwich Ringing Report 2016

Owain Gabb and his team have been ringing at Oxwich Marsh on Gower for four years. In 2016 3,281 birds of 52 species were ringed there. There’s plenty of interesting information in this review of the year at Oxwich.  Amongst the headlines: it was a good year for Grasshopper Warbler, Common and Jack Common Snipe and a poor year for Blackcap. The Report also contains plenty of examples of notable controls and recaptures.

http://gowerbirdringinggroup.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/oxwich-marsh-ringing-report-2016.html

 

January 13, 2017 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

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