The Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report No 56 (2017) is presented in B5 format and contains 92 pages reviewing the birding year in our region.
As ever, the bulk of the report is taken up by the species accounts, commentating on the fortunes of resident, migrant and rare birds observed during the year. The region’s first Red-flanked Bluetail at Wern Ddu. for most, will have been the highlight of their local birding year. Other rarities include Night Heron, Purple Heron, Great White Egret, and a Semipalmated Sandpiper.
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 and BTO news.
Line drawings and photographs continue to highlight the talents of our region’s local birders. Among others an Glaucous Gull, Caspian Tern, Waxwing, Night Heron and of course, the Red-flanked Bluetail.
A new farmland bird survey is set to be rolled out this winter throughout England, the English Winter Bird Survey (EWBS) The focus of this volunteer survey will be to assess bird populations occupying the farmed landscape whilst monitoring the availability of food resources throughout the winter period. This work will enable BTO to gain a better understanding of how limited food availability during winter is contributing to the overall decline in breeding farmland bird numbers by attempting to identify the “hungry gap”, when food is at its shortest supply.
To date there has been no national-scale monitoring of the effects of agri-environment scheme (AES) management on birds in winter, which is particularly important because the most successful AES options for birds have found to be those that primarily affect birds in winter. This study will aim to collect information on the use of AES options alongside other food resources available in winter.
Why am I telling you this? Well, the survey is focused on English farmland with analysis of data for the English squares (because Natural England are funding the project), however, BTO has identified that volunteers from other areas and habitats may want to contribute data and therefore, the data entry system will be open to all areas of the UK.
The new survey, largely based on the BBS square protocol, will involve monthly counts of birds and brown hare (plus other mammals seen) from December 2018 to March 2019, to capture changes in the use of farmland through the winter, but allowing volunteers to make a minimum of two visits (ideally January and February). The focus will be on BBS squares that are dominated by farmland. The survey method will involve following the summer transects routes, as much as possible, with surveys conducted at any time of day, excluding the hour immediately after sunrise and that immediately before sunset.
We are keen then, where possible, that existing BBS surveyors take part, who will be able to automatically sign up and allocate themselves for the winter survey logged in to BBS online. We would like as many as possible of those interested, to sign up during October.
From early November, an online site selection map will be available to all surveyors, where they can request a survey square from the remaining unallocated BBS squares as well as new BBS squares which have not yet been surveyed. The envisaged project timeline is:
Mid October 2018: Existing surveyors can sign up (button on BBS website becomes available)
Late October 2018: Final survey recording forms/instructions available
November 2018: Squares will be visible to non-existing BBS surveyors/public to request (preference for original BBS surveyors)
November 2018: Suggested recce visit and initial surveyor contact with landowners, if required
December 2018: Survey period begins
January 2019: Online data entry available
31 March 2019: End of survey period
31 May 2019: Deadline for data entry
Please contact Wayne for further details or to get involved.
Over the last year or so, BTO has been running the BTO Owl Appeal with the aim of funding Project Owl – a set of interrelated research on the UK’sd. The appeal looks to fund a programme of work over the next few years, and provide long-term support to bird ringers and nest recorders.
The first body of work from Project Owl is to conduct a national survey of tawny owls. Better information on how Tawny Owl populations are doing is obtained by carrying out periodic targeted surveys, with BTO previously carrying out national structured surveys for tawny owls in Britain in the autumns of 1989 and 2005.
By now carrying out comparable surveys that also take advantage of modern statistical techniques, BTO aims to get up-to-date measures of change in their occupancy and populations as well as habitat associations and geographical patterns.
By extending the survey to multiple seasons, BTO plans to also look at changes in their population over the course of the year and compare it to productivity/survival recorded in other BTO monitor projects like the Nest Record Scheme and Ringing Scheme. Through this, BTO hopes to learn more about our noisy but often mysterious neighbours.
Two separate surveys will be conducted to monitor our tawny owls. The Tawny Owl Calling Survey takes place between September 2018 and March 2019, and the Tawny Owl Point Survey beginning shortly with the first survey period will run from 15 August to 15 October, 2018.
During this time, volunteers are asked to make one to three (ideally at least two) short evening visits to a chosen tetrad within as short a period as possible. The whole process is planned to be repeated between mid-February and mid-March 2019, and in autumn 2019/spring 2020.
We have 33 tetrad available to monitor in east Glamorgan.
More details, with options to take part in the Tawny Owl Point Survey (TOPS) are available online.
In 2018 Glamorgan Bird Club, with a grant from Welsh Ornithological Society, is running a project to help determine the breeding status and distribution of willow tit in east Glamorgan. Knowledge suggests the species is uncommon and patchily distributed in our area and its recent national population decline makes it a Red List species.
Findings of this study will inform potential habitat management work and nest box provision.
Anyone can make a contribution to the project by reporting sightings of this species in our regions. Club members participating in the survey, can claim travel expenses, recording the date and distance travelled for each survey visit.
Have you ever considered becoming a BTO nest recorder but felt unsure about how to get started?
BTO’s Nest Record Scheme (NRS) gathers vital information on the breeding success of Britain’s birds by asking volunteers to find and follow the progress of individual birds’ nests. This important data can form a key part of the information required to help the conservation of birds now, and in the future.
Anyone can be a nest recorder, no matter how experienced you are as a birder. It is a highly rewarding Scheme to be involved with, improving your general birdwatching and observation skills and therefore your enjoyment of birding.
Until very recently, there were very few people nest recording regularly in Glamorgan. We’re glad to say that numbers have started to grow slowly over the last few years and there are the beginnings of a network of nest recorders in the county.
Meadow Pipit nest (Photo: Dan Jenkins-Jones)
However, to put nest recording on a more sustainable footing locally, and across Wales, we’re looking to recruit more volunteers to contribute to this important scheme.
With this in mind, a Nest Record Scheme Taster Day for new volunteers will be held atRudry Common, near Caerphilly, between 8:00am – 4:00pm, 13 May 2018.
The day will be run by members of the Fledgemore Nest Recording Group, and provides an introduction to monitoring nests, how to follow the all-important Code of Conduct to ensure monitoring does not influence the outcome of nests, as well as a few hours in the field for some supported practice searching for a variety of different species’ nests. There will be a charge of £10 per person to cover costs. If there is any money left over will be donated to the BTO.
2017 Nest Recording Taster Day participants (Photo: Dan Jenkins-Jones)
Spaces on this event are limited. If you’re interested in attending or would like more information, please contact:
More information about the Nest Records Scheme is available online. We’ve also written short articles about nest recording on this site over the last few years – articles which will hopefully give you some further personal insight about the experiences of taking part in the Scheme:
Do you have half a Sunday free, once a month, between September and March?
Do you want to add value to your birding?
If you can answer ‘Yes’ to all three of those questions, then the BTO’s Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) could be just the thing you’re looking for. WeBS is the survey which monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK, aiming to identify population sizes and determine trends in numbers and distribution of waterbirds.
Wherever you live, the good news is that the survey is as easy as 1,2,3 . . .
Turn up once a month on a specified date to your allotted wetland site
Count the waterbirds you see there
Submit your records to the BTO – either online or on paper forms
You can find out more about the survey by visiting the East Glamorgan WeBS page which includes more information about our local wetland sites which currently need a volunteer counter. If you find one that you’re interested in, or you know of a wetland site you’d like to cover which isn’t on the list, please get in touch.
We’re looking in particular for somebody to count Talygarn Lake. At the risk of sounding like an estate agent, it is a very desirable WeBS site which has recently become available and which I’d recommend as an attractive proposition for any ‘first-time surveyor’. It is conveniently situated south of the M4 near Brynsadler. It is a large, shallow, man-made fish pond constructed I’d say around the late 19th/early 20th century. It’s an attractive location, surrounded by some lovely woodland, it also fringed with some reed.
Talygarn Lake attracts a nice variety of waterbirds such as Gadwall, Teal, Tufted Duck and Mallard as well as Little Grebe, Water Rail and Kingfisher. To add value to your visit the surrounding woodland is home to a nice variety of species, including Marsh Tit.
If you’re interested in taking on Talygarn (or any other site) for WeBS or , to continue the estate agent analogy, you’d like me to accompany you for a ‘viewing’ first, please contact me for a no-obligation chat.
A fine May morning in South Wales, beautiful countryside filled with birdsong and a full house of enthusiastic participants sharing together the highs of finding new nests containing eggs or chicks, and the lows of coming across newly predated nests. These are the headlines from this year’s BTO Glamorgan ‘Nest Recording Taster Day’ held on 14 May at Rudry Common.
Monitoring the success of our nesting birds is of huge importance to their long term conservation. It’s great to see that the numbers of birders taking part in the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme (NRS) across the UK is on the up. But, despite this recent increase, far more volunteers are needed and there’s a real ‘call to arms’ for more people to take up the fascinating art of nest recording, particularly here in Wales where more nest data are desperately needed – whether that’s submitting one record from your garden nestbox or 100+ for the really ambitious ‘nesters’. Every record of every species has value.
Volunteers for this important scheme, now in its 78th year, find and follow the progress of individual birds’ nests across the UK, collecting vital data which are used to produce trends in breeding performance. These data help identify species that may be declining because of problems at the nesting stage, and they can also help measure the impacts of factors such as climate change on our bird populations.
Of course, you can learn how to find nests and monitor them safely on your own with help from the BTO website or from books. But it’s much easier, and considerably faster, to learn from more experienced nest recorders.
On our home patch of Glamorgan, there are currently only around a 10 active nest recorders, submitting c.800 records annually. Keen to increase those numbers, to share nest finding knowledge and to put the Scheme on a more sustainable footing in the county, Trevor Fletcher (Rudry Common Trust), Wayne Morris (East Glamorgan BTO Rep) and I trialled a Nest Record Scheme Taster Day at Rudry Common, north of Cardiff, in 2016. Encouraged by our experiences of that event, we held another ‘Taster Day’ at Rudry on May 14th this year. Best of all, we were joined by two of last year’s participants, Andy Bevan and Graham Williams, both of whom have already gathered 60+ nest records this year, as our co-leaders.
A full house of 9 participants gathered at Rudry Parish Hall at the beginning of the day but, such was the level of interest that we could have almost doubled that number. The number is limited to enable us to work through the various habitats whilst staying close to each other, reducing disturbance and making it easier to share any hints and tips on how to find the nests of various species as a group, rather than separately as individuals.
After a short indoor session, where we presented the participants with their free hazel ‘tapping stick’ and ‘mirror on a stick’ (both essential tools of the nest recorder’s trade which they learnt to use during the day), introduced them to the NRS Code of Conduct which ensures you don’t impact upon the outcome of a nest, and to some basic nest finding techniques, we were soon out in the field for 6 hours .
We spent the morning working through woodland, finding a number of nests: a Blackbird nest with chicks close to fledging; an active Goldcrest nest and, later, a predated one; Great Spotted Woodpecker with chicks; Song Thrush and a Wren on eggs; a Woodpigeon nest which had sadly failed at the chicks stage; a Blue Tit in a nestbox and Coal Tit and Great Tit with chicks nesting in natural cavities, both of whom enabled Trevor to show off his skills with an endoscope.
Late morning, we left the woodland and moved out onto to Rudry Common in search of a suite of different species. However, the first nest we found was a Blackbird on 4 eggs, found by Tara, one of the participants, whilst tapping some dry Bracken. Brilliant!
A Linnet nest in gorse, which contained chicks a few days before the Taster Day, was sadly empty, probably lost to predation. Nevertheless, it enabled the participants to get a feel for where to find their own Linnet nests in future. A beautiful Long-tailed Tit nest with chicks, also in gorse, was the next species added to our list.
The highlight of the day for most was probably a Willow Warbler nest with eggs, described by one participant as a ‘nest on its side’. It’s such a simple, yet beautiful, construction and superbly camouflaged. Finding one is always a thrill, and yet, with the right fieldcraft and knowing how the female’s off-nest call will help you, finding a Willow Warbler nest can be quite easy.
It wasn’t all plain sailing during the day though. We were led a merry dance, as always by Stonechats, Whitethroats and Meadow Pipits. The latter’s nest can be a real challenge to find. Nevertheless, we had one Meadow Pipit nest which we’d staked out before the Taster Day. Sadly, it had already failed but it still contained 4 eggs and, yet again, gave everybody a feel of where to look for Meadow Pipit nests and how well concealed they are.
The day was rounded off with another short indoor session at Rudry Parish Hall, where we shared information on how to plan nest visits and complete nest records and had a quick game of ‘whose nest is this’. We also ‘crowned’ Tara as the New Nest Finder of the Day: she found Coal and Blue Tit in natural cavities, Great Spot and Blackbird nests. Tara went on to justify her ‘crown’ because, back on Rudry Common immediately after the event to try and find a Garden Warbler for her Year List, she found another Willow Warbler nest on her own!
An enjoyable day all round and fingers crossed that some, if not all of the participants turn out to be fully fledged nesters in years to come. We’d like to thank the Rudry Common Trust for its support and last, but not least, the event also raised money for the BTO from the participants’ entry fees. We’ll probably hold another Taster Day in May 2018 and we’ll promote it nearer the time on this blog. If you’re interested, please get in touch – book early to avoid disappointment!
Dan Jenkins-Jones, Asst. BTO Rep, Mid & South Glamorgan