This month, January 2015, sees the next International Swan Census (ISC) take place across Europe, with an aim to estimate the size and distribution of the Iceland Whooper Swan and Northwest Bewick’s Swan populations. The census takes place every five years and is coordinated internationally by the Wetlands International / IUCN Swan Specialist Group. Here in the UK it is coordinated by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT). The census is being held this year on the weekend of January 17th and 18th and more information about the it can be found at WWT’s Waterbird Monitoring website.
Whooper, and in particular Bewick’s Swans, are rather scarce in our region. However, we do know that both species do occasionally turn up in Eastern Glamorgan and WWT would be grateful if we could keep an eye out over the census weekend (or any time in January) just in case any swans should choose to visit a local site in January 2015… and they would obviously be very grateful for a count to be submitted should that happen!
An online recording form is available for providing counts, and paper forms will be available for any counters who do not have access to the internet.
The main aim of the ISC is to estimate the size and distribution of each population, as well as identify important wintering sites. Age assessments, if possible, are also made during the surveys, providing a coordinated estimation of breeding success. In addition counters are asked to record the type of habitat used by the swans during the census. These data are analysed to assess whether there has been any major shift in habitat use over time.
Fingers crossed one or other species turns up in our region over the next few weeks.
Species account form the basis of the report, commentating on the fortunes of resident, migrant and rare birds observed during the year. A Long-billed Dowitcher at Rhaslas Pond was only the second record for our region and adds to a growing list of species observed at this site threatened for development. A drake Lesser Scaup returned once again to Cardiff Bay and now seems settled into a routine of wintering here. Other local rarities of note were Avocet, Long-tailed Skua, Bonaparte’s Gull, Red-necked Phalarope, Hoopoe and Nightingale.
Also included are a report on the status of species over the last decade in a Cardiff suburb, a county ringing report along with accounts from Kenfig NNR, Flat Holm and Cardiff Bay highlighting species and numbers caught. Other features are a report on the year’s weather, migrant dates, BTO news and the county list.
Line drawings and photographs continue to highlight the talents of our region’s local birders.
The Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report is free to all members of the Glamorgan Bird Club.
Copies may be purchased from John Wilson:
Editor of the Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report
122 Westbourne Road
Vale of Glamorgan
tel: 02920 339424
House Martins are thought to have declined by 16% in the UK in the last ten years. Worryingly in England there have been declines of 65% longer term which has led to the House Martin being amber listed as a species of conservation concern.
We want to stop House Martins from slipping on to the red list for Birds of Conservation Concern, reserved for species which have seen declines of more than 50% over a 25 year period. But to do this we need to learn more about them here in the UK.
House Martin Survey
We hope to run a new, specially designed survey, comprising of two parts to gather vital information to help us understand more;
- A national survey in 2015 to gather information on the House Martin population, local distribution and their habitat preferences.
- A nest monitoring study in 2016 to learn about breeding success, timings and location of nests.
How you can help
Your gift will help us to establish population estimates, providing a baseline against which future change can be measured, and understand more about the reasons for the steep decline in England. Could it be that the mud they use to build nests is harder to find due to climate change or drought? Have changes in local land-use affected insect numbers and led to a food shortage or is there a lack of suitable nest sites?
Once we have further information we can use this evidence to inform policy and practice to give House Martins a better chance in the future.
The programme for this year’s annual Welsh Ornithological Society conference in association with BTO and RSPB is now available. The event will be held at Ruthin in North Wales.
Saturday 12 November
Theatr John Ambrose, Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin, LL15 1EG
WOS Lifetime Achievement Awards and the 2014 Student Research Award, presented by Iolo Williams
Atlas 2007-11: what does it mean for Wales, Dawn Balmer
Skokholm Bird Observatory, the pioneer years, David Saunders
Trials and tribulations on North Wales’ moors, Stephen Bladwell
Pied Flycatchers, Pete Coffey
BirdTrack, what it can do for you and birds, Nick Moran
The future of bird conservation in Wales, Arfon Williams
Latest news from BTO Cymru and RSPB Cymru
Further details and booking form are available.
September marks the beginning of the Wetland Bird Survey’s (WeBS) core period which continues on until March. Having said that, most of us WeBS volunteers enter counts for our sites for some months outside this period too . . . we enjoy the survey so much!
35 volunteers now count 36 sites here in the recording area of ‘Eastern Glamorgan’ – varying in size from Rhymney Estuary and Cardiff Bay to Glamorgan Canal and Pentwyn Pond. I’m glad to say that, over the last few months we’ve welcomed some new volunteers to our local team.
Thanks to John Duffy, Peterston-super-Ely Moors is being counted for WeBS for the first time since 1985 and Cardiff University student, Sophie-Lee Williams is now the counter at Fochriw Reservoir. You can volunteer on more than one wetland site if you like and Craig Watson has done just that by taking on both Parc Tredelerch (Lamby Lake) and Pentwyn Pond – the latter site has never been counted for WeBS before. Another new site for WeBS, Pwll Waun Cynon, is now being counted thanks to Phil Hill. You might be surprised to hear that there’s been a 20 year gap since Cyfarthfa Castle Lake, Merthyr last had a visit from a WeBS counter. I’m delighted to say that that gap has now been filled by Carys Solman.
We said some farewells too. Geographically, Cardiff Bay may be in Eastern Glamorgan, but it forms part of the Severn Estuary (Wales) WeBS area – an area managed by WeBS Local Organiser, Al Venables. The site has been counted for many years by Peter Ferns. Peter stood down this year and another Peter – Peter Howlett – has taken his place. Even though the Bay doesn’t come under the Eastern Glamorgan WeBS area I’m sure you’ll join me in saying a big ‘thank you’ to both of them.
A local hot spot under serious threat of ‘development’ is Rhaslas Pond. Mike Hogan has been visiting the site regularly and his records have shown how important it is, particularly for migrating wildfowl and waders. Sadly, Mike has now stepped down as a WeBS counter at Rhaslas, as has Neville Davies from counting Caerphilly Castle Moat and I’d like to thank them both for their efforts.
This now leaves us with vacancies at two important wetland sites within ‘Eastern Glamorgan’. Rhaslas Pond has shown that almost anything can turn up there – it might be the only WeBS site in the UK with a Long-billed Dowitcher amongst its recent counts! It’s important that data continues to be gathered from there and let’s hope it’s spared from destruction. Caerphilly Castle Moat is important because it has been almost continuously counted for WeBS since 1991. That continuity of data is so valuable and so I’m really keen to find a new counter for the site.
WeBS is a great survey if you’re new to bird surveys or an old hand at them. More information about what it means to be a WeBS volunteer can be found here. If you’re interested in taking on one of these two sites, or if you’d like to take on another site in East Glamorgan, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch for a no obligation chat.
WeBS Local Organiser for East Glamorgan
18 St Margaret’s Road; Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 7AA
h: 02920 621394; m: 07828 093613