Volunteers required for a breeding Rook surveys 

Two Rook surveys are being held alongside each other during the springs of 2022 and 2023 with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the population and distribution of this familiar, yet declining member of the crow family breeding here in East Glamorgan and across Wales.  

These surveys are being led by the Welsh Ornithological Society (WOS) and the Glamorgan Bird Club (GBC) and they would really appreciate your support.

Why Rooks? Why now?

Rooks are in trouble and need help. They have been moved from Green to Amber in the recently published Birds of Conservation Concern 5. In Wales, they appear to be in more trouble than elsewhere. The BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) index for Wales fell by 58% during 1995-2018, accelerating after 2010, and the rate of decline is considerably greater here than in any other UK nation. In East Glamorgan, Rooks were confirmed as breeding in only 13% of tetrads (2x2km squares on an OS map) in the BTO 2007-11 Atlas, compared to 21% in the 1988-91 Breeding Atlas. 

Two surveys working side by side

WOS’ survey aims to help establish why the decline’s been so rapid in Wales and to create a robust breeding population estimate. This survey is based on volunteers visiting a number of specially chosen tetrads (2x2km squares on an OS map) based on those surveyed during previous Rook surveys. A number of those tetrads have been allocated to us here in East Glamorgan.

GBC’s survey will complement and add value to the WOS survey by asking volunteers to visit all those tetrads in East Glamorgan which had confirmed, probable and possible breeding records of Rooks in them during the 2007-11 BTO National Atlas period. The aim of this survey is to map out in greater detail the distribution of active rookeries in our region and the numbers of pairs nesting in them.

Can you help WOS and GBC find and record our local rookeries?

Do you know where rooks nest in your area? We’d love to hear from you, even if you’re not able to take part in the survey itself.

Also, if you’ve never taken part in a bird survey before, the WOS and GBC surveys are an excellent way to start. Both surveys use the same methodology:

  • You must be able to confidently identify Rooks – here’s a BTO video to help you.
  • Make one visit to your allocated tetrad(s) sometime between 1 March and 15 April in either 2022 or 2023
  • Count the number of active nests in any rookeries you find on your visit
  • Note the tree species used for the active nests (we’ll provide a tree ID guide)
  • Or, if there are no rookeries in your tetrad, record a ‘0’ and become a ‘Zero Hero’. Negative data are equally as important as counts in this survey – particularly if you know where there was once an active rookery which has now fallen silent.

For more information and to book your tetrad(s)

Please take a look at this map below to see whether there is a vacant tetrad near you. Double-click on a square for more information. You’ll then see the name of the nearest town, village or landmark to the centre of that tetrad. You’ll also see a link to an OS map of the selected tetrad. On this map, the area which needs to be covered for this survey is the larger square with the pink outline, not the smaller square with the blue outline. Of course, you’ll only need to cover those parts of the tetrad where there is suitable habitat for a rookery.

To report a rookery in your area, to book your tetrad(s) or to find out more about these surveys and vacant tetrads in East Glamorgan, please contact the WOS and GBC Local Organisers, Dan Jenkins-Jones and Ceri Jones via eastglamrooks@gmail.com 

Invaluable support

WOS is very grateful to Glamorgan Bird Club for its support, to Natural Resources Wales for funding the start-up costs of its survey, to the BTO for creating a tetrad booking app and to the RSPB’s Centre of Conservation Science and Wales’ County Bird Recorders for additional advice.

Hopefully with your invaluable support too, we can contribute to the future conservation of Rooks in Wales.

Ceri Jones and Dan Jenkins-Jones

GBC and WOS Rook Survey Local Organisers

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