New Pochard Survey – Winter 2015-16

Common Pochard are becoming increasingly uncommon in East Glamorgan. Looking at my own Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS ) site, Roath Park Lake, you only have to go back ten years or so and you’d regularly see 50+, occasionally 100+, birds there during the winter months. Now, I’m more likely to see only 5 or 6. But this phenomenon isn’t only happening here. Wintering Pochard numbers are dropping across the UK.

But what’s driving this decline? Well, the Duck Specialist Group, through the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the UK has set up a project asking people to record sex ratios of Pochard in the hope this will give them an insight into reasons for declines.

Pochard (RSPB Images)

Common Pochard (Photo: RSPB Images)

If you’re lucky enough to record Pochard whilst out birding this winter – in East Glamorgan or elsewhere – can you please make a note of the male to female sex ratio at the site and submit these additional data via the Pochard Survey website? You’ll find out a lot more about the survey on this site and, if scroll down to the bottom of the survey’s webpage, the link you need to click on is ‘CLICK HERE to submit your data’. This takes you to a survey page which is very easy to fill in.

If you have any queries, please contact


November 22, 2015 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment

Garden Gold

The BTO has just launched a winter Goldfinch Feeding Survey. With 70% more Garden BirdWatchers reporting Goldfinches now than 20 years ago, it’s apparent that they are now common garden visitors but we don’t fully understand the reasons behind this rise in numbers.

The survey will help  investigate the factors behind this increase, as well as uncover their winter feeding habits. It will also support new research being undertaken by BTO Research Ecologist Kate Plummer, to investigate whether the increasing use of garden bird foods by Goldfinches is helping their national population to grow. Kate recently led on the Blackcap work funded by the GBW Appeal that showed that supplementary feeding has affected the migratory behaviour of wintering Blackcaps in the UK.

Goldfinch (RSPB Images)

Goldfinch (RSPB Images)

The survey is running between now and the end of February, so please take part if you have Goldfinches in your garden – you don’t need to be feeding them. All the details about what we’re looking for and how to take part can be found here:

November 8, 2015 at 5:00 pm 1 comment

The 2014 BTO Nest Record Scheme Season in Glamorgan

I’m delighted to say the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme (NRS) is growing in popularity in Glamorgan.  This Scheme gathers vital information on the breeding success of Britain’s birds by asking volunteers to find and follow the progress of individual birds’ nests. Anyone can be a nest recorder, and by carefully following the NRS Code of Conduct, monitoring does not influence a nest’s outcome.   Some people submit only one or two records a year while others find and monitor nests of a whole range of species. Even the Blackbird or Blue Tit nest in your garden can provide valuable data for conservationists.

In 2014, the NRS’s 75th anniversary, 18 volunteers submitted nest records from Glamorgan – up from 11 volunteers in 2013. Between them they submitted a total of 781 records for 48 species (2013: 421 records for 51 species).

Song Thrush Nest (Photo: Dan Jenkins-Jones)

Song Thrush Nest (Photo: Dan Jenkins-Jones)

There were some notable nest records in 2014: both Cuckoo and Kittiwake were new species for the Glamorgan NRS database, the latter bursting on the scene with a total of no fewer than 91 records during the year; the 10 nest records for Barn Owl and 3 records for Great Crested Grebe almost trebled the number of records received from Glamorgan for these species in the entire history of the Scheme, and the 4 House Martin records doubled the number or records on the Glamorgan database.

Glamorgan Nest Record Totals 2014

(Species marked * are BTO Priority Species / species marked with a ‘+’ are on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and require a licence to be obtained before monitoring).

Blue Tit 232
Great Tit 149
Kittiwake* 91
Swallow 65
Blackbird* 45
Song Thrush* 25
Nuthatch 22
Pied Flycatcher* 22
Coot 12
Barn Owl + 10
Wren* 8
House Sparrow 7
Redstart* 7
Robin 6
Woodpigeon 6
Dipper* 5
Linnet* 5
Long-tailed Tit 5
Canada Goose 4
Dunnock* 4
Goldfinch 4
House Martin 4
Willow Warbler* 4
Blackcap 3
Great Crested Grebe 3
Mute Swan* 3
Tawny Owl 3
Treecreeper 3
Chaffinch* 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Meadow Pipit* 2
Tree Pipit 2
Bullfinch 1
Buzzard 1
Chiffchaff 1
Coal Tit 1
Collared Dove 1
Cuckoo 1
Goldcrest 1
Goshawk + 1
Grey Wagtail* 1
Magpie* 1
Reed Bunting* 1
Reed Warbler 1
Skylark* 1
Spotted Flycatcher* 1
Stonechat 1
Swift 1

For more information about nest recording and how you can take part please visit the BTO’s Nest Recording webpages. You can also search for all Glamorgan’s nest records between 2007-14 by going to Online Nesting Reports page.

November 1, 2015 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

BONG! Here are the ‘NEWS’ headlines

BONG! Volunteers required in East Glamorgan for BTO’s Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS)

BONG! This is a great survey which involves an enjoyable walk on the wonderful East Glamorgan coastline, counting birds and doing your bit for citizen science and conservation.

BONG! It requires only a single count of waterbirds along a c.2km sector of non-estuarine coastline on any date between 1st December 2015 and 31st January 2016

BONG! You can choose and then download a map for one, or more, of the c.2km pre-defined sectors of coastline you’d like to monitor

BONG! Recording waders is the priority however, whenever possible, volunteers are encouraged to record other species such as wildfowl, seabirds, raptors, non-waterbirds and, if encountered, mammals too

What is the Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS) and what’s it trying to achieve?

The United Kingdom is internationally important for its numbers of wintering waterbirds and many of these are monitored annually by the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) counts. However, the WeBS counts are mostly made on estuaries and inland waterbodies, therefore leaving the majority of the coastline uncounted. NEWS 2015/16 will focus coverage on these important and under-recorded habitats.

Sanderling (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Sanderling (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Why is a new survey required?

Several species such as Purple Sandpipers, Turnstone, Sanderling, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher occur around our shores away from estuaries, but they are poorly covered by WeBS and consequently are not monitored annually.  Following the original Winter Shorebird Count carried out in 1985 and NEWS counts in 1997/98 and 2006/07, the third repeat of NEWS will be carried out this coming winter.

How the survey works

The coastline along East Glamorgan has been split into two ‘regions’: a). Bridgend and Vale of Glamorgan – Gileston to Kenfig Burrows and b). Vale of Glamorgan – Summerhouse Point to Penarth Head. These two regions have been further split into count sectors approximately 2km long.

Volunteers for this survey can choose one, or more, of these pre-defined sectors of coastline they’d like to monitor.  The survey visit will entail a walk along the intertidal area of their chosen sector(s) to conduct a single count of waterbirds on any date between 1st December 2015 and 31st January 2016.

Interested in taking part?

If you’re interested in taking part, please visit the BTO’s main NEWS webpage for more information and a full set of survey instructions. From this webpage, you can login (or register first if you’re not already registered as a BTO Online user – a simple process) and request one or more sectors:

  1. Click on ‘Request a NEWS Sector’ and you will be taken to ‘Select a Geographic Area to Request a NEWS Sector’.
  2. In this page, search for ‘Glamorgan’ and you will see the two ‘regions’ of the Glamorgan coastline referred to above.
  3. Click on one or other and you’ll be taken to a map showing the sectors available.
  4. Choose one, or more, sector(s) that suit you best and then put in your request. If your chosen sector hasn’t already been allocated to another volunteer, an email will be automatically generated to me and then I’ll allocate the sector to you. If possible, please try and choose a High Priority sector first – they are colour coded so you’ll know which ones are the High Priority sectors.

Alternatively, if you’d like any more information please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be delighted to hear from you.


October 24, 2015 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

East Glamorgan Bird Atlas Published

A culmination of many hours of fieldwork by local BTO volunteers and members of the Glamorgan Bird Club, the East Glamorgan Bird Atlas is now published.

East Glamorgan Bird Atlas

Data from all BTO national atlases and that collected by bird club members has been used to illustrate species distribution maps for both winter and breeding seasons from the 1960s to the present decade. Categories of breeding evidence are shown using a range of symbols, and breeding change maps are offered for 1984 vs 2011. Species richness maps for more than 300 tetrads show the hotspots across the region. Urban areas, rivers and birding sites can be viewed by a simple mouse-click.

Viewers can now see historical losses and gains of our avifauna in a readily accessible, attractive format – for free.  We hope you find the new atlas interesting and informative.

The maps provide much food for thought.  Cuckoo is becoming absent in the south of the region, and likewise, Willow Tit is just clinging on to a few sites in the north. Is the increase in Nightjar attributable to range expansion or observer effort?

These few examples merely scratch the surface of what the atlas is revealing about the changing the fortunes of our local avifauna. How can we address these changes locally?

March 26, 2015 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

Can you help ‘The Swallow of the Eaves’?


The House Martin – known as Gwennol y Bondo (‘The Swallow of the Eaves’) in Welsh – is well known to many people. From April to September it lives cheek by jowl with those lucky enough to have this energetic little bird nest under their eaves. In recent years however, the numbers breeding in the UK have fallen by two-thirds, leading to the species being amber listed as a bird of conservation concern and in need of some help.

Although the decline hasn’t been quite as severe in Wales as it has been in England, we’ve also seen a substantial drop in numbers here too. The species was confirmed as breeding in only 98 tetrads in East Glamorgan between 2007-11, down from 173 tetrads between 1984-89 – that’s a drop of 43% (source: East Glamorgan Bird Atlas).

This recent decline has prompted the BTO to launch a House Martin Survey in 2015. It is a first step to help us discover more about this species, to identify why they are declining and to provide scientific evidence to help inform policy decisions that could reverse the declines.

House Martins (RSPB Images)

House Martins (RSPB Images)

How can I help?

We need volunteers who are willing to carry out two or three visits to a randomly selected (i.e. pre-selected) 1-km square between late May and mid-July, to look for House Martins and their nests. By surveying random squares, we will be able to assume that our results are representative across a wider area, and produce a robust population estimate against which changes in the future can be measured.

How long will each visit take?

The survey visits will involve walking around the square looking for House Martins and their nests and mapping and recording a few details about any nests that you find. In most squares each visit will normally take around one to two hours – however, the visit length depends on the habitats within the square: visits to urban squares may take longer, whereas visits to squares with only a small number of buildings may take less than half an hour.

What do I do next?

You can take part by registering on the BTO House Martin Survey.  You’ll then be able to find and request a vacant 1km square near you, as well as find out more information about the survey.

Alternatively, please contact me directly and let me know which one (or more) of the 1km squares listed above appeal to you. The green markers represent the squares currently un-allocated, the blue markers are those that have already been allocated to a volunteer. If your choice has not already been allocated to another volunteer by the time I hear from you, then that square will be all yours! If you need more information before you volunteer, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for a ‘no obligation chat’.

Daniel Jenkins-Jones
mobile: 07828 093 613

March 15, 2015 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

BTO Volunteer Surveys Training Event

Members, volunteers and potential volunteers are invited to an afternoon meeting to meet other volunteers, share experiences and learn about existing and future BTO surveys. The event will be held at:

10:00am – 3:00pm, 28 March 2015

Llangasty Village Hall
Brecon, LD3 7PJ

The agenda has not been finalised so we are asking you what you would like. We can offer an introduction to BBS, update on BirdTrack, learn about the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, the Wetland Bird Survey, the Heronries Census or the 2015 House Martin Survey. The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) always needs new surveyors and there are some vacant squares this year as volunteers retire or move away from the area.

Kelvin Jones the BTO Cymru Development Officer will be hosting the meeting. Tea and coffee and afternoon refreshments will be available.

Please contact Kelvin if you’d like to attend:

Kelvin Jones
BTO Wales Development Officer
BTO Cymru, Thoday Building, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW

t: 01248 383285
m: 07979 713282

February 14, 2015 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

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