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

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 Eglwsilan, 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

Welsh Ornithological Society Conference 2014

The programme for this year’s annual Welsh Ornithological Society conference in association with BTO and RSPB is now available. The event will be held at Ruthin in North Wales.

WOS Conference 2014

2014 Conference
Saturday 12 November
Theatr John Ambrose, Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin, LL15 1EG

WOS Lifetime Achievement Awards and the 2014 Student Research Award, presented by Iolo Williams
Atlas 2007-11: what does it mean for Wales, Dawn Balmer
Skokholm Bird Observatory, the pioneer years, David Saunders
Trials and tribulations on North Wales’ moors, Stephen Bladwell
Pied Flycatchers, Pete Coffey
BirdTrack, what it can do for you and birds, Nick Moran
The future of bird conservation in Wales, Arfon Williams
Latest news from BTO Cymru and RSPB Cymru

Further details and booking form are available.

October 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

Hellos, Goodbyes and New Vacancies – East Glamorgan WeBS Update

September marks the beginning of the Wetland Bird Survey’s (WeBS) core period which continues on until March. Having said that, most of us WeBS volunteers enter counts for our sites for some months outside this period too . . . we enjoy the survey so much!

35 volunteers now count 36 sites here in the recording area of ‘Eastern Glamorgan’ – varying in size from Rhymney Estuary and Cardiff Bay to Glamorgan Canal and Pentwyn Pond. I’m glad to say that, over the last few months we’ve welcomed some new volunteers to our local team.

Thanks to John Duffy, Peterston-super-Ely Moors is being counted for WeBS for the first time since 1985 and Cardiff University student, Sophie-Lee Williams is now the counter at Fochriw Reservoir. You can volunteer on more than one wetland site if you like and Craig Watson has done just that by taking on both Parc Tredelerch (Lamby Lake) and Pentwyn Pond – the latter site has never been counted for WeBS before. Another new site for WeBS, Pwll Waun Cynon, is now being counted thanks to Phil Hill. You might be surprised to hear that there’s been a 20 year gap since Cyfarthfa Castle Lake, Merthyr last had a visit from a WeBS counter. I’m delighted to say that that gap has now been filled by Carys Solman.

John Duffy has recorded up to 6 Green Sandpipers at Peterstone-super-Ely Moors (Phot: RSPB Images)

John Duffy has recorded up to 6 Green Sandpipers at Peterstone-super-Ely Moors (Photo: RSPB Images)

We said some farewells too. Geographically, Cardiff Bay may be in Eastern Glamorgan, but it forms part of the Severn Estuary (Wales) WeBS area – an area managed by WeBS Local Organiser, Al Venables. The site has been counted for many years by Peter Ferns. Peter stood down this year and another Peter – Peter Howlett – has taken his place. Even though the Bay doesn’t come under the Eastern Glamorgan WeBS area I’m sure you’ll join me in saying a big ‘thank you’ to both of them.

A local hot spot under serious threat of ‘development’ is Rhaslas Pond. Mike Hogan has been visiting the site regularly and his records have shown how important it is, particularly for migrating wildfowl and waders. Sadly, Mike has now stepped down as a WeBS counter at Rhaslas, as has Neville Davies from counting Caerphilly Castle Moat and I’d like to thank them both for their efforts.

Caerphilly Castle Moat

Caerphilly Castle Moat

This now leaves us with vacancies at two important wetland sites within ‘Eastern Glamorgan’. Rhaslas Pond has shown that almost anything can turn up there – it might be the only WeBS site in the UK with a Long-billed Dowitcher amongst its recent counts! It’s important that data continues to be gathered from there and let’s hope it’s spared from destruction. Caerphilly Castle Moat is important because it has been almost continuously counted for WeBS since 1991. That continuity of data is so valuable and so I’m really keen to find a new counter for the site.

WeBS is a great survey if you’re new to bird surveys or an old hand at them. More information about what it means to be a WeBS volunteer can be found here. If you’re interested in taking on one of these two sites, or if you’d like to take on another site in East Glamorgan, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch for a no obligation chat.

Daniel Jenkins-Jones
WeBS Local Organiser for East Glamorgan
18 St Margaret’s Road; Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 7AA
h: 02920 621394; m: 07828 093613

September 14, 2014 at 9:12 pm Leave a comment

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