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?
*** HOT OFF THE PRESS: NEW SQUARES NOW AVAILABLE. SEE BELOW***
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.
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’.
mobile: 07828 093 613
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!
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.
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:
Editor of the Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report
122 Westbourne Road
Vale of Glamorgan
tel: 02920 339424
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.
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.