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
e-mail: eastglamwebs@gmail.com
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

e: kelvin.jones@bto.org
t: 01248 383285
m: 07979 713282

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

WWT International Swan Census: January 2015.

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!

Whooper Swan, Ogmore Estuary (2008)

Whooper Swan, Ogmore Estuary (2008)

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.

January 6, 2015 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment

Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report, 2013 Published

The latest annual bird report from the Glamorgan Bird Club has just been published.  It is the 52nd report for our region, and the 5th under the guidance of the Glamorgan Rarities Committee.

Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report, 2013The Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report No 52 (2013) is presented in B5 format and contains 76 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 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:

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

tel: 02920 339424

December 14, 2014 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

BTO House Martin Appeal

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.

House Martin (RSPB Images)

House Martin (RSPB Images)

BTO’s Goal

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.

Help by donating to the House Martin Appeal now.

October 18, 2014 at 3:27 pm Leave a comment

International Golden Plover Survey

There will be a coordinated census of Golden Plovers across Europe this weekend of 11-12 October, repeating comparable surveys carried out in 2008 and 2003.

The majority of Golden Plover are concentrated in northwest Europe in October, making it the best time to assess the population.  As in 2008, the BTO will be collating all counts of Golden Plover within the framework of an International Wader Study Group project.

Golden Plovers by Sergey Yeliseev, on Flickr

Golden Plovers by Sergey Yeliseev, on Flickr

In our region, Sker Point near Porthcawl is a good spot to see Golden Plover flocks, with upto 140 seen at high tide in recent weeks.  This weekend, high tide is at 08:49am on Saturday and 09:24am on Sunday.  Elsewhere, flocks can sometimes be seen congregating on hill tops such as Cefn Eglwysilan, Mynydd y Glyn and Werfa.

For the UK, Golden Plover numbers provided through standard WeBS Core Counts will represent the key source of data in combination with records provided through BirdTrack.

Volunteers are encouraged to submit counts of Golden Plover (and Lapwing) into BirdTrack  over the weekend.

October 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm 2 comments

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