Looking Out for Herons

Over the next few weeks, Grey Herons will be returning to begin another new breeding season.  For some birders, it marks the start of the BTO Heronries Census, the longest running survey of its kind in the world.  Counting nests provides by far the most efficient and accurate measure of breeding numbers for most colonial birds.

Heronry at Stanley Park by wlcutler, on Flickr
Heronry at Stanley Park by wlcutler, on Flickr

In our region, we monitor eight known heronries, with another just outside the boundary at Llwyn-on Reservoir.  Currently we have volunteers visiting all apart from the large colony at Coryton on the outskirts of Cardiff.  Could you help out with this site?  A few visits are required to determine a count of ‘apparently occupied nests’.

It’s possible that there are a few other nesting sites around the region, as new colonies form.  Grey herons nest with just one or two pairs at some sites.  Are there any we have overlooked?

Please get in touch if you have any information or would like to monitor our Coryton site.

Wayne Morris
e: eastglambto@gmail.com

The Early Bird …

… has its feeding patterns affected by light and heat pollution during cold winter mornings.  Is this true?

This is what the forthcoming Early Bird Survey will investigate.

Breakfast time for Robin by fintbo, on Flickr
Breakfast time for Robin by fintbo, on Flickr

Birds require extra energy to keep warm, especially during long winter nights. To cope, they lay down extra fat reserves, though small birds quite often only lay down enough for a single night. Longer nights not only affect the amount of energy a bird uses, they also reduce the amount of time that birds can feed in. Birds, therefore, have to make the most of the daylight hours to replenish their energy reserves before it gets dark.

Building on observations from the Shortest Day Survey, the Early Bird Survey will investigate what effect, if any, light and heat pollution have on the feeding patterns of birds during a cold winter’s morning.

The  survey takes place on 9 January 2014 (submissions from days between the 6 and 12 January will be welcome too) and requires people to get up just before dawn, watch their garden feeding stations and record what time they see the first 10 different species arriving; some additional information on the local environment will also be recorded.

Can you take part in this survey?

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