2018: a great year for ringing and nest recording in Glamorgan

The BTO’s 2018 Online Ringing and Nest Recording Report has just been released – but it’s absolutely not just for ringers and nest recorders. It’ll be of great interest to most birders, crammed full of fascinating info gathered on bird movements and species longevity records from recoveries and re-traps of ringed birds. It also contains details of all the species whose nests have been monitored for the Nest Record Scheme. You’ll be surprised not only by how many, but also by how few nests of some species are monitored – gaps that you may be able to fill? You can look back at data from years prior to 2018 too and,  best of all, it can all be broken down to country and county level – so you can see what it all looks like on a Wales and Glamorgan level (Note: it’s not possible to break down the results between ‘east’ and west Glamorgan).

So what did 2018 look like in Glamorgan? Well, things look good here on both the ringing and nest recording front. A total of 6,852 birds were ringed in the county last year; there were 2,233 re-traps and 60 recoveries.  This compares with 6,548 birds ringed, 1,642 re-traps and 66 recoveries in 2017.   Recoveries are reports of birds found dead and those found alive away from the site of ringing. For most species, reports of live birds re-caught by ringers within 5 km of the ringing site are classified as retraps.

Greenfinch wing being measured (Photo: Dawn Balmer)

It’s well worth having a look at the 2018 Summary of Ringing Recoveries from Glamorgan. It’s full of interesting ‘stories’ of bird movements and longevity. For example, the Barn Owl ringed as a nestling in the Vale of Glamorgan on 19th June 2018 which was found freshly dead (sadly, hit by a car) four and a half months later in Northamptonshire on 31st October 2018. Also, a Redshank that was ringed as an adult in October 1999 on the Taff Estuary (just over a month before the sluice gates were shut and Cardiff Bay was created), which was found freshly dead as a result of the ‘Beast from the East’ at Cardiff Heliport in March 2018. This individual was within touching distance of breaking the longevity record for this species which stands at 20 years, 1 month and 15 days.

Dunnock nest and eggs
Dunnock nest – an under-recorded species in Glamorgan (Photo: DJJ)

It was a record breaking year for nest recorders in Glamorgan with 963 nests of 49 species monitored in 2018. That’s the highest ever total in the county since the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme began in 1943 and well up on the 708 nests of 43 species monitored in 2017. Here are the Top 10 Species monitored in Glamorgan last year:


Number of nests monitored

1. Blue Tit


2. Kittiwake


3. Great Tit


4. Blackbird


5. Swallow


6. Song Thrush


7. Coot


8. Pied Flycatcher


9. Nuthatch


10. Barn Owl


Amongst the scarcer species whose nests were monitored were Goshawk (2 records), Lesser-spotted Woodpecker (1 record) and Marsh Tit (1 record). On the flip side, nest records from some common species, or those whose nests are relatively easy to find, were surprisingly few in number e.g. Robin (13 records), Dunnock (12 records); Mute Swan (7 records) and Woodpigeon (6 records). Every nest record of every species counts. Perhaps you can help increase these numbers next year?

On behalf of the BTO, a huge ‘thank you’ to all the ringers and nest recorders who contributed records in Glamorgan in 2018. Your efforts and dedication are really appreciated.

So, to finish off as we began – whether you’re a ringer a nest recorder or not, if you have 10-15 minutes to spare, it’s definitely worth looking at the 2018 Online Ringing and Nest Recording Report – but, be warned: once you’re in it, you may well find you want to spend a lot longer than 15 minutes reading it.

Free Guide to Celebrate National Nest Box Week 2019

National Nest Box Week 2019 (NNBW) starts today, 14 February. Why not take part by erecting a nest box in your garden or (with the landowners permission) a local greenspace? Natural nest sites for birds such as holes in trees or old buildings are disappearing fast as gardens are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired. This is especially true in urban areas and it’s making it tough for species whose numbers are in decline like House Sparrow (-35%) , Starling (-74%) and Swift (-51%) .

If you’re not sure how to go about it, to help us all celebrate NNBW the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has produced a new ‘essential guide’, full of useful information on i) what to look for when buying a nest box, ii) box placement and iii) looking after a box longer term. The free guide is available from gbw@bto.org or by calling the BTO’s Garden Ecology Team on 01842-750050.

Nestbox Pic 1Nestbox pic 2

Here in East Glamorgan, to celebrate National Nest Box Week, the Glamorgan Bird Club is organising a nest box making event at Kenfig National Nature Reserve on Saturday, 16 February. If you’d like to join in, please meet the team at the Kenfig Visitor Centre workshop at 9 a.m.

The simple act of putting up a nest box can make a real difference for our birds, providing them with the space they need to raise a family. Taking part in NNBW gives you the chance to contribute to bird conservation whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your nest box. What’s not to like?

New opportunities to become a BTO Wetland Birds Survey volunteer

What do the Knap Boating Lake in Barry, Pitcot Pool in St Brides Major and Tirfounder Fields in the Cynon Valley have in common? Well, they’re all in need of new volunteers to count the waterbirds on them for the BTO’s Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). Until very recently, waterbirds at all three sites have been counted regularly for many years providing valuable data for this important national survey, as well as for local publication in the annual Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report produced by the Glamorgan Bird Club. It would be fantastic if we could find new volunteers to take on these sites, to ensure that we can continue to add to the body of information we already have for these sites. Do you think you can help?

Pitcot pond, St. Brides (GRC Blogspot)
Pitcot pond, St. Brides (http://grcforum.blogspot.com/)

If you’ve never taken part in a bird survey before WeBS is a great place to start. You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ birder; anyone can take part, even beginners to birdwatching.  Unlike many bird surveys, to carry out WeBS Counts, you don’t have to know bird songs or calls, just the ability to identify common waterbirds. The survey is as easy as 1,2,3 . . .

  1. Turn up once a month on a specified date to your allotted wetland site
  2. Count the waterbirds you see there
  3. Submit your records to the BTO – either online or on paper forms 

For more information about the survey, as well as other WeBS sites also in need of volunteers in East Glamorgan, please have a look at our WeBS page.

Today (2nd February) is World Wetlands Day, established to celebrate our wonderful wetlands and to raise awareness about their value for humanity and the planet. What better way to join in the celebrations than becoming a WeBS volunteer? If you’ve always felt that you’d like to make a practical contribution to our knowledge of birds but didn’t know where to start, then taking part in this survey is an excellent place to begin.

If you’re interested in taking part in WeBS and taking on one of these three or other vacant local sites, please get in touch.

Daniel Jenkins-Jones
WeBS Local Organiser for East Glamorgan
18 St Margaret’s Road; Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 7AA
h: 02920 621394; m: 07428 167 576
e: eastglamwebs@gmail.com

Do you fancy sexing some ducks this winter?

Will you be out birding in wetland areas in East Glamorgan or elsewhere this month (January 2019)? If so, you may want to help out with this easy, yet important, survey.

This month, waterbird counters and bird watchers across Europe, North Africa and Southwest Asia are being asked to collect the male/female sex ratio data of the counts of wildfowl they make. You may have taken part in something similar back in January 2016, when birdwatchers were asked to note the sex ratio of the Common Pochard they recorded while out birding or conducting a Wetland Bird Survey count. The results of that study can be found here.

Counting the number of females and males in flocks of wildfowl is an easy way to help gather information on population structures and can even provide a crude assessment of changes in survival rates between the sexes.

pintail - jill pakenham
Male Pintail (Photo: Jill Pakenham)

Please do consider helping. It’s quick, easy and fun! Counters are being asked to simply record the number of males and females in flocks that they observe. Sex ratio counts are welcomed at other times of the winter too.

Your sex ratio counts can be submitted via BirdTrack or via this website http://www.ducksg.org/projects/sexratios/ , where you’ll also find more information about this study and how to take part.

Get 2019 off to a flying start by taking part in the BTO BirdTrack #100CompleteLists challenge

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda / Happy New Year to you all!

If you are looking for a birding challenge for 2019, why not try the BTO BirdTrack #100CompleteLists Challenge? The maths is easy – the challenge is to log an average of just two complete lists every week at your local patch or further afield.

BTO Birdwatcher 3

BirdTrack is a project that looks at migration movements and distributions of birds throughout Britain and Ireland. It also provides facilities for observers to store and manage their own personal records as well as using these to support species conservation at local, regional, national and international scales.

The idea behind BirdTrack is that, if you have been out birdwatching or simply watching the birds in your garden, records of the birds you have seen can be useful data. The scheme is year-round, and ongoing, and anyone with an interest in birds can contribute.

BTO Birdwatcher

The success of BirdTrack relies on your birdwatching lists. Simply make a note of the birds you see, either out birdwatching or from the office or garden for example, and enter your daily observations on a simple-to-use web page or via the free App for iPhone and Android devices. You can really help the BTO to gather the large number of lists it needs at all times of the year from throughout Britain and Ireland.

Complete lists are the most useful BirdTrack data the BTO receives and all that is required to submit a complete list is to enter all bird species you positively identified in your visit. There should also be a reasonable attempt made to cover most of the site you are visiting. Incomplete lists and casual records can also be entered because they too build our understanding of populations, distributions and movements.

If you are taking part, why not let us know how you’re getting on through social media using the #100CompleteLists hashtag.

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