Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report, 2017 published

The latest annual bird report from the Glamorgan Bird Club has just been published.  It is the 56th report for our region, and the 9th under the guidance of the Glamorgan Rarities Committee.

DSC_0173The Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report No 56 (2017) is presented in B5 format and contains 92 pages reviewing the birding year in our region.

As ever, the bulk of the report is taken up by the species accounts, commentating on the fortunes of resident, migrant and rare birds observed during the year.  The region’s first Red-flanked Bluetail at Wern Ddu. for most, will have been the highlight of their local birding year.  Other rarities include Night Heron, Purple Heron, Great White Egret, and a Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Also included are 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 and BTO news.

Line drawings and photographs continue to highlight the talents of our region’s local birders.  Among others an Glaucous Gull, Caspian Tern, Waxwing, Night Heron and of course, the Red-flanked Bluetail.

The Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report is free to all members of the Glamorgan Bird Club.

Copies may be purchased from John Wilson:

John Wilson
Editor of the Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report
122 Westbourne Road
Vale of Glamorgan
CF64 3HH

tel: 02920 339424


Winter Bird Survey, 2018-19

A new farmland bird survey is set to be rolled out this winter throughout England, the English Winter Bird Survey (EWBS) The focus of this volunteer survey will be to assess bird populations occupying the farmed landscape whilst monitoring the availability of food resources throughout the winter period. This work will enable BTO to gain a better understanding of how limited food availability during winter is contributing to the overall decline in breeding farmland bird numbers by attempting to identify the “hungry gap”, when food is at its shortest supply.

To date there has been no national-scale monitoring of the effects of agri-environment scheme (AES) management on birds in winter, which is particularly important because the most successful AES options for birds have found to be those that primarily affect birds in winter. This study will aim to collect information on the use of AES options alongside other food resources available in winter. 

Tree sparrow (Passer montanus)

Why am I telling you this? Well, the survey is focused on English farmland with analysis of data for the English squares (because Natural England are funding the project), however, BTO has identified that volunteers from other areas and habitats may want to contribute data and therefore, the data entry system will be open to all areas of the UK.

The new survey, largely based on the BBS square protocol, will involve monthly counts of birds and brown hare (plus other mammals seen) from December 2018 to March 2019, to capture changes in the use of farmland through the winter, but allowing volunteers to make a minimum of two visits (ideally January and February). The focus will be on BBS squares that are dominated by farmland. The survey method will involve following the summer transects routes, as much as possible, with surveys conducted at any time of day, excluding the hour immediately after sunrise and that immediately before sunset.

We are keen then, where possible, that existing BBS surveyors take part, who will be able to automatically sign up and allocate themselves for the winter survey logged in to BBS online. We would like as many as possible of those interested, to sign up during October.

From early November, an online site selection map will be available to all surveyors, where they can request a survey square from the remaining unallocated BBS squares as well as new BBS squares which have not yet been surveyed. The envisaged project timeline is:

  • Mid October 2018: Existing surveyors can sign up (button on BBS website becomes available)
  • Late October 2018: Final survey recording forms/instructions available
  • November 2018: Squares will be visible to non-existing BBS surveyors/public to request (preference for original BBS surveyors)
  • November 2018: Suggested recce visit and initial surveyor contact with landowners, if required
  • December 2018: Survey period begins
  • January 2019: Online data entry available
  • 31 March 2019: End of survey period
  • 31 May 2019: Deadline for data entry

Please contact Wayne for further details or to get involved.

Monitoring Tawny Owls

Over the last year or so, BTO has been running the BTO Owl Appeal with the aim of funding Project Owl – a set of interrelated research on the UK’sd. The appeal looks to fund a programme of work over the next few years, and provide long-term support to bird ringers and nest recorders.

Tawny Owl
Tawny Owl by Paul Buxton, Flickr

The first body of work from Project Owl is to conduct a national survey of tawny owls. Better information on how Tawny Owl populations are doing is obtained by carrying out periodic targeted surveys, with BTO previously carrying out national structured surveys for tawny owls in Britain in the autumns of 1989 and 2005.

By now carrying out comparable surveys that also take advantage of modern statistical techniques, BTO aims to get up-to-date measures of change in their occupancy and populations as well as habitat associations and geographical patterns.

By extending the survey to multiple seasons, BTO plans to also look at changes in their population over the course of the year and compare it to productivity/survival recorded in other BTO monitor projects like the Nest Record Scheme and Ringing Scheme. Through this, BTO hopes to learn more about our noisy but often mysterious neighbours.

Two separate surveys will be conducted to monitor our tawny owls.  The Tawny Owl Calling Survey takes place between September 2018 and March 2019, and the Tawny Owl Point Survey beginning shortly with the first survey period will run from 15 August to 15 October, 2018.

During this time, volunteers are asked to make one to three (ideally at least two) short evening visits to a chosen tetrad within as short a period as possible. The whole process is planned to be repeated between mid-February and mid-March 2019, and in autumn 2019/spring 2020.

We have 33 tetrad available to monitor in east Glamorgan.

More details, with options to take part in the Tawny Owl Point Survey (TOPS) are available online.


Willing for Willow Tits

In 2018 Glamorgan Bird Club, with a grant from Welsh Ornithological Society, is running a project to help determine the breeding status and distribution of willow tit in east Glamorgan. Knowledge suggests the species is uncommon and patchily distributed in our area and its recent national population decline makes it a Red List species.

Findings of this study will inform potential habitat management work and nest box provision.

Willow Tit by Richard Towell (Flickr)

Anyone can make a contribution to the project by reporting sightings of this species in our regions.  Club members participating in the survey, can claim travel expenses, recording the date and distance travelled for each survey visit.

More details, including instructions, identification guides and survey forms are available from the Glamorgan Willow Tit Project.

Local Open Day

On 26 March, we were pleased to hold our first local BTO Open Day at Parc Slip NR.  Over twenty members and volunteers joined us to meet friends, old and new, and share our interest in bird studies.

We were pleased to hear Dr Rob Parry of the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales describe conservation activity around the reserve as it tries to protect and create suitable breeding for little ringed plover and lapwing on this former coalfield site.

Next, Kelvin Jones, BTO Cymru’s Development Officer, gave a news update from BTO and explained how volunteers can get involved with a range of volunteer surveys.

Dan and Wayne then shared information about the House Martin Survey and Nest Record Scheme, before we all enjoyed lunch at the reserve’s excellent coffee shop.  The indoor session concluded with local updates on BBS and WeBS.


Most volunteers then opted to join one of the field exercises where we ran through the methodology involved in conducting a BBS survey or learned the art of nest finding.  Though bird numbers were low, we were able to use the call method to detect a few species and map and habitat code our transect routes.  A partially built long-tailed tit nest, and sitting song thrush were reward for the nest finders.

Thanks to all participants who made the day a success, and to those volunteering for their first BTO survey.

Good luck,  and we look forward to our next event.

Big Birding Day, 2017

Our friends at Glamorgan Bird Club are holding the sixth annual Big Birding Day in a few weeks time.

Big Birding Day
10:00am onwards
Sunday, 30 April 2017

Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Ton Kenfig
CF33 4PT


A wide range of activities will be on offer, including:

  • guided bird walks
  • bird ringing demonstration
  • children’s activities
  • plant stall
  • cake stall
  • refreshments and more ….

There is no charge, and all are welcome to come along and enjoy a day of birds at this fantastic reserve.

Your Holiday Records Needed

aea06d04-951c-4b77-9548-3ec7ab62723fFieldwork for the European Breeding Bird Atlas 2 concludes this summer.  EBBA2 will map the distribution and abundance of Europe’s 500+ breeding species across more than 50 countries. Huge progress has been made already, but your records are still needed to fill gaps in coverage.

Some of the countries where gaps exist, including Portugal, Greece and Turkey, are regular destinations for UK birders. Others, such as Albania, Armenia and European Russia, are further off the beaten track.

BirdTrack users can help by submitting records – with breeding evidence codes – from wherever they travel in Europe, using the global data entry tool or the new app.

Information on how, and where, birders can help is given on the EBBA2 website.