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?

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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.

Your Curlew Sightings are Important

The critical decline of Curlew is well documented and your help is required in reporting all sightings of recently colour-ringed birds.

Some Curlew wintering on the Usk and Severn have been ringed, using six rings on the legs. These birds may of course travel west and be seen here in East Glamorgan. Information on their whereabouts will help conservation efforts.

The key colour rings to identify individuals are the single ring on the left tibia (upper leg – orange in photo), and the two rings on the right tibia (blue and lime green in photo).  There is a metal ring on the right tarsus, and two colours on the left tarsus to denote the project (yellow and white in photo).

Colour-ringed Curlew

Andrew Strong is collating information on re-sightings of any of these birds on behalf of the BTO. Please email Andrew details of any colour-ringed Curlew that you see, to aj.strong@icloud.com, and he’ll get back in touch with you to let you know the birds’ history.

Usk marked wintering birds have been reported on their breeding grounds in both Poland and Finland. Any further sightings of your birds will be published in the Gwent Ornithological Society Newsletter, or see http://www.curlewcall.org

Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report, 2017 published

The latest annual bird report from the Glamorgan Bird Club has just been published.  It is the 56th report for our region, and the 9th under the guidance of the Glamorgan Rarities Committee.

DSC_0173The 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.

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

Winter Bird Survey, 2018-19

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. 

Tree sparrow (Passer montanus)

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.