Colour-marked Waterbirds in the Severn Estuary

Birdwatchers are being asked to look out for colour-ringed and dye-marked waders and ducks on and around the Severn Estuary.

BTO alongside WWT are working on a project to understand more about the home ranges of three species of waders (Curlew, Redshank and Dunlin) and a range of duck species on the Severn Estuary between Newport and Cardiff. As part of this work the Redshank and Curlew have been colour-ringed and Dunlin and some ducks marked with yellow dye. In addition, state-of-the-art tracking devices have been placed on some of the Curlew, Redshank and Shelduck, which is providing information about how birds use the estuary through the winter during both the day and the night.

Dunlin

Dunlin, by shell game on flickr

The work is funded by Tidal Lagoon Power, to provide high quality scientific information for the environmental impact assessment for a proposed tidal power lagoon (Tidal Lagoon Cardiff), and to inform their conservation and biodiversity programme – the Ecosystem Enhancement Programme (EEP).

If you see any colour ringed or dyed birds when you are birdwatching either on the Severn or elsewhere, we would be very grateful for any sightings of these birds. Of particular interest is any records of birds with yellow dye. Birds of different age have been marked on different parts of the body so please record the location of the dye and, if possible, the total number of birds in the flock, the date, time and location (ideally including a six-figure grid reference) alongside sightings of colour-marked birds.

Birds have been marked as follows

  • Redshank have yellow over white colour-rings on the left tarsus (below the ‘knee’), and a colour over a metal-ring on the left tibia (above the ‘knee’), plus two colour rings on the right tibia.
  • Curlew have orange over white colour-rings on the left tarsus, a single colour-ring on the left tibia, the metal ring on the right tarsus and two colour-rings on the right tibia.
  • Dunlin adults have yellow dye on the breast, while first-winter Dunlin have yellow dye on the undertail/flanks/rump
  • Shelduck have yellow dye on the normally white plumage on the neck/upper breast.

Any records of colour-ringed birds on the Severn would also be extremely valuable and all observers are given information on the history of any colour-ringed birds.

BTO are very keen to follow up any records quickly and would be grateful if you could phone 01842 750050, or email Emily Scragg (emily.scragg@bto.org) with any records of colour-marked waders as soon as possible. Please email duck records to Ed Burrell (Ed.Burrell@wwt.org.uk).

January 15, 2016 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

Wetland Bird Survey 2015 – East Glamorgan Review

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda / Happy New Year to you all. Although I have to say, my greetings are a bit premature. In the world of the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) the corks pop and the fireworks fizzle at the stroke of midnight on June 30th. That’s because the WeBS year runs from July>June. Nevertheless, I thought it would be useful to look back at how our team of East Glamorgan WeBS volunteers got on in 2015.

Last year, that team consisted of 37 volunteers who made counts of wetland birds at 39 sites. They submitted a combined total of 2,657 records of 69 species and a total count of 71,281 birds. Pretty awesome!

East Glamorgan WeBS: Top 20 Most Commonly Recorded Species

Species Combined total of records Combined total of counts
1 Mallard 315 10,372
2 Moorhen 234 1,384
3 Coot 197 5,839
4 Mute Swan 146 3,217
5 Herring Gull 132 5,437
6 Canada Goose 131 5,006
7 Lesser B-backed Gull 130 6,362
8 Grey Heron 120 186
9 Black-headed Gull 119 14,625
10 Cormorant 108 932
11 Little Grebe 101 618
12 Tufted Duck 94 3,256
13 Teal 69 1,325
14 Great Crested Grebe 68 617
15 Grey Wagtail 59 158
16 Kingfisher 47 66
17 Pied/White Wagtail 36 175
18 Reed Bunting 32 98
19 Water Rail 29 68
20 Dipper 28

63

Unsurprisingly, Mallard was the species most commonly reported across East Glamorgan and, although the counting of gulls is optional for the survey, our WeBS counters still recorded a combined total of 14,625 Black-headed Gulls.

Mallard occupied the top spot (RSPB Images)

Mallard occupies the top spot for 2015 (RSPB Images)

Amongst the scarcer birds to be recorded were single records of Bittern, Woodcock, Whimbrel, Glaucous and Yellow-legged Gull, two records of Garganey and four records of Lesser Scaup (at Cardiff bay of course).

Perhaps the most striking thing is the noticeable absence of Pochard from the Top 20. This species languishes down at number 32 with only a combined total of 17 WeBS records of 108 individuals throughout 2015.

Pochard - becoming scarcer in East Glamorgan (RSPB Images)

Pochard – becoming scarcer in East Glamorgan (RSPB Images)

Nevertheless, this does reflect what all birders living in East Glamorgan already know: that Pochard are becoming scarcer in the region unless boosted by a prolonged spell of cold weather. That’s not surprising given that the data in the 2007-11 Bird Atlas shows that there has been a 21% contraction in the winter range of the Pochard in Britain & Ireland since the last atlas, which covered the period 1981 to 1984.

WeBS is a great survey to undertake if you’re new to bird surveying. If you’re interested in taking part in 2016 please have a look at the East Glamorgan WeBS page and feel free to get in touch get in touch for a no obligation chat.

January 10, 2016 at 9:43 pm Leave a comment

Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report, 2014 Published

The latest annual bird report from the Glamorgan Bird Club has just been published.  It is the 53rd report for our region, and the 6th under the guidance of the Glamorgan Rarities Committee.

gbcThe Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report No 53 (2014) is presented in B5 format and contains 89 pages reviewing the birding year in our region.

Species account form the basis of the report, commentating on the fortunes of resident, migrant and rare birds observed during the year.  A Caspian Gull at Cosmeston Lakes CP was a county first and second only for Wales.  This site also produced Night Heron. A Lesser Scaup continues to over-winter in the Cardiff area, and the year was a good one for Black-necked Grebe and Whooper Swan.

Also included are 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, the county list, a BTO surveys report, a historical account of nest recording across Glamorgan and obituaries for two well-known members of the local birding scene, Maurice Chown and Steve Moon.

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:

John Wilson
Editor of the Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report
122 Westbourne Road
Penarth
Vale of Glamorgan
CF64 3HH

tel: 02920 339424

December 23, 2015 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Help prevent a Curlew catastrophe

Curlew (Photo; Jeff Slocombe)

Curlew (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

The long, decurved bill, reminiscent of a crescent moon, and its evocative bubbling call are distinctive characteristics that make the Curlew so easily identifiable.  Yet it is in real danger of becoming a thing of the past as it has just become one of the newest additions to the British Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern, and deemed to be of the highest conservation priority.

At the end of the Second World War, pairs of breeding Curlew could be found in Glamorgan from the Rhymney Valley to West Gower (Birds of Glamorgan, Hurford & Lansdown ).   However, the East Glamorgan 2007-11 Atlas shows that breeding was only confirmed from one 10km square around Merthyr.

Our local decline is mirrored across the UK. The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) shows a 46% decline across the UK in the last two decades, with this figure exceeding 50% in Wales and Scotland. Critically, the UK holds 28% of Europe’s breeding Curlew, meaning that declines here represent the loss of a substantial portion of Europe’s total breeding Curlew population.

The UK’s population of wintering Curlew is also of global importance, representing nearly one-fifth of the world population. Resident breeding Curlew are joined in winter by birds from the Continent and Scandinavia. However, the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) estimates about a 20% decline in Curlew numbers over the last 15 years.

To unpick the causes of Curlew population decline the BTO is planning a ground-breaking programme of research, analysing existing datasets to investigate patterns of extinction and colonisation and utilising revolutionary new technology to track wintering Curlew. The sooner we can start on this research, the sooner we can understand the conservation actions needed to help Curlew recover.

Our target for the first year is £100,000 to begin this vitally important research.

Find out more about the appeal and some of the questions we want to investigate or make a donation to help reverse the fortunes of this beautiful bird.

December 12, 2015 at 4:01 pm Leave a comment

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 monitoring@wwt.org.uk

Diolch/Thanks.

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: www.bto.org/goldfinch-survey.

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

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