Seasonal Greetings to All Our Members & Volunteers

December 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm Leave a comment

Good wishes to all local members and volunteers who contributed to the wide range of BTO surveys run in our region over the course of 2012! Its been a good year despite some of the challenges the weather presented over the summer.

Robin in Snow by Alaric Webster, on Flickr

Robin in Snow by Alaric Webster, on Flickr

Spring 2012, saw BTO Cymru launch the Wales Chat Survey, and we covered 29 1km squares across East Glamorgan.  We expect to run the survey once again in 2013, attempting to cover some squares missed rising from the poor weather. The Winter Thrushes Survey kicked-off in September 2012, and a number of volunteers have been actively recording thrushes across the county with their free site visits. As I write we have 27 core squares allocated for visits in the next few weeks.

We are delighted with the continued rise in volunteers taking part in two core surveys, BBS and WeBS.  These surveys provide key data that feed in to national reports of the UK bird populations.  Both surveys are at record volunteer levels locally, though we are always on the lookout for greater coverage.  Though participation was up by 30% across Wales, the recent The Status of Birds in Wales revealed 27 species have insufficient data from BBS to report on.  BTO Cymru will once again be employing a mentorship scheme, especially in mid Wales, to ensure coverage increases in our areas of lower population.

The Heronries Census is the longest running breeding bird survey in the world, and we have volunteers monitoring our 8 known heronries each year.  One of our three WBBS sites in our region was surveyed in 2012.  A healthy number of folk participating in Garden BirdWatch, which is great fun and quite addictive.

One survey is under represented in our region is NRS, the Nest Recording Scheme.  As well as helping our understanding of breeding biology, it’s an important measure of breeding success, with results published in BirdTrends. Interest in this activity is increasing, highlighted by the publication of  A Field Guide to Monitoring Nests in 2011.  We are looking at ways of encouraging participation in this scheme in our area.  Can you get involved?

It is also worth commenting on BirdTrack and the continuing development this service provides birdwatchers interested in recording their sightings.  Features include the ability to easily log precise location to OS coordinates, breeding status, complete lists or roving records all feature along with tools to display site or year lists or export records to Excel for use elsewhere.  The development of an Android app, certainly increased the number of records and users taking part and a forthcoming iOS app for iPhone users will surely see that trend continue.   There’s a lot more planned for 2013, so if you’re not already a BirdTracker, why not give it a go?

While we’re looking ahead, 2013 will see the publication of the national Bird Atlas, 2007-11.  A mammoth undertaking in terms of field work, with well in excess of 100,000 records contributed locally. We had a glimpse of some of the species maps at the recent annual conference, and the recently published BBS maps reveal some of the detail we can expect to see.

Finally, and in keeping with the trend across the UK, membership continues to grow locally. Thank you all for your support and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a bird filled New Year.

Wayne & Dan

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The State of Birds in Wales, 2012 Not Even a Coal Tit

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