Discover a Lost Art

March 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm 2 comments

For 75 years, volunteers of the Nest Record Scheme (NRS) have been finding and following the progress of individual birds’ nests, collecting this vital breeding performance data across the UK, helping measure the impacts of factors such as climate change on our bird populations.

We have 11 volunteers in Glamorgan and recruitment is going well across Wales, with recorder numbers increasing faster than in any other UK country, but the national pool of volunteers is still fewer than 50, so there is much scope for improvement.

Blackbird nest, by Wayne Morris

Blackbird nest, by Wayne Morris

Anyone can be a nest recorder, and by carefully following the NRS Code of Conduct, monitoring does not influence a nest’s outcome.   Some people watch a single nest box in their back garden while others find and monitor nests of a whole range of species, even the Blackbird in your garden can provide valuable data for conservationists.

For Dipper and Redstart, Wales is a NRS stronghold, providing a significant proportion of the UK total each year. There are many gaps in coverage however, even for common species.

Glamorgan Nest Record totals
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Mute Swan* 4 1
Canada Goose 5
Great Crested Grebe 1
Buzzard 2 1 1 2 1
Moorhen* 1 2
Coot 9 13 1
Woodpigeon 1 4 1 7 6 6
Collared Dove 4 1 1
Nightjar 2 1 4 1
Swift 2 1 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker
1
1
1
1
3
6
Skylark*
1
Sand Martin
52
12
43
19
Swallow
9
20
10
15
24
13
House Martin 2
Meadow Pipit* 1 3 1 1 1
Grey Wagtail* 1
Pied Wagtail* 1 3 2 2
Dipper* 1 9 2 3
Wren* 5 1 1 8 4
Dunnock* 3 2 4 3 5 4
Robin 3 4 2 2 6 4
Redstart* 3 2 3 6 6 7
Whinchat* 1
Stonechat* 4 10
Wheatear* 2
Blackbird* 23 20 13 15 43 30
Song Thrush* 10 19 3 7 24 13
Mistle Thrush* 1 2 3
Grasshopper Warbler 2 3
Blackcap 4 3 4
Garden Warbler 1
Whitethroat 1 2 1
Wood Warbler* 1
Chiffchaff 1 1
Willow Warbler* 2 1 2 6 3
Pied Flycatcher* 47 38 39 51 48 22
Long-tailed Tit 6 2 7 6 10 2
Blue Tit 121 100 120 153 136 134
Great Tit 96 84 97 74 87 84
Coal Tit 3
Nuthatch 19 16 9 16 15 6
Treecreeper 1 1 4 4
Jay 1
Magpie* 2 7
Jackdaw 2
Carrion Crow* 1 1 2 2
Raven 2 1 1 1
Starling* 1
House Sparrow 2 1
Chaffinch* 3 2 2 2 2
Greenfinch* 3 1 2
Goldfinch 1 1 1
Siskin 1
Linnet* 2 1 1 2 3 4
Bullfinch* 2 2
Yellowhammer* 2 1 1
Reed Bunting* 3 4
Total 453 344 349 487 513 391
* priority species

Now you may say “I haven’t got the time” or “Isn’t nest recording for specialists?”, and to be honest, that’s just how we felt this time last year when faced with the daunting prospect of learning to monitor nests.

In 2013 however, we attended a NRS training course. Here we were shown the simple tools of the trade, spent a lot of time with our heads in bushes and were blown away by loads of fascinating tips on how to find different species’ nests and monitor them safely. The training obviously paid off as we returned home to find amongst others Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow and Wood Warbler nests on our home patches. The experience really did add a whole new dimension to our birding; twelve months later, with a lot to learn still, we’re ready to get started once more and have a number of residents nesting already and the first Chiffchaffs of the year setting up territories.

Why not join the Welsh revival and make 2014 the year you become a nest recorder? It’s enjoyable, you’ll learn a huge amount about the birds around you and, vitally, you’ll provide information to support conservation efforts that can’t be gathered any other way.

Visit the Nest Record Scheme for more information.

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