Posts filed under ‘wales’
Have you ever considered becoming a BTO nest recorder but felt unsure about how to get started?
The BTO’s Nest Record Scheme (NRS) gathers vital information on the breeding success of Britain’s birds by asking volunteers to find and follow the progress of individual birds’ nests. There are currently only around eight or nine active nest recorders in the whole of Glamorgan and we’re looking to recruit more volunteers locally to contribute to this important scheme.
A Nest Record Scheme Taster Day for new volunteers will be held at Rudry between 8am and 3pm on Sunday, May 14th. The day will be run by Trevor Fletcher (Rudry Common Trust), Wayne Morris and Dan Jenkins-Jones (Mid & South Glamorgan BTO Regional Representative and Assistant Rep). The day will provide an introduction to monitoring nests, how to follow the all-important NRS Code of Conduct to ensure that you’re monitoring does not influence the outcome of nests, as well as a few hours in the field for some supported practice searching for a variety of different species’ nests. The aim is to increase the number of birders contributing to this valuable survey over the coming years. There will be a charge of £10 per person to cover costs.
Anyone can be a nest recorder. It will add a new dimension to your birding, you’ll be making an important contribution to our knowledge of birds and it is personally very rewarding. For more information about the Scheme, please visit http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/nrs
We’ve also written short articles about the Nest Record Scheme on this blog over the last few years – articles which will hopefully give you some further personal insight about the experiences of taking part in the Scheme:
- Discover a Lost Art
- “I’ve got an endoscope, and I’m not afraid to use it!” – Tales of a BTO Nest Record Scheme training weekend
- The 2014 BTO Nest Record Scheme Season in Glamorgan
If you’re interested in attending please contact Dan Jenkins-Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org / (029) 2062 1394 / 07703 607 601 for more information.
The return of the familiar House Martin is one of the highlights of spring. But will it be a familiar sight for future generations? In recent years, the numbers breeding in the UK have fallen by two-thirds, leading to the species being amber listed as a bird of conservation concern and in need of some help.
Although the decline hasn’t been quite as severe in Wales as it has been in England, we’ve also seen a substantial drop in numbers here too. The species was confirmed as breeding in only 98 tetrads in East Glamorgan between 2007-11, down from 173 tetrads between 1984-89 – that’s a drop of 43% (source: East Glamorgan Bird Atlas).
This recent decline prompted the BTO to launch a three-year research project which began in 2015, funded by BTO members and supporters through an appeal, to provide scientific evidence about House Martins to identify why they are in trouble, and hence start to look for solutions.
The survey in 2015: just how many House Martins are there in the UK?
In 2015, volunteers were asked to survey random i.e. pre-selected 1-km squares throughout the UK in order to produce a robust population estimate to monitor future changes. The survey proved popular amongst birders in East Glamorgan with 25 counters volunteering to search for, and count House Martin nests, in 28 1-kms squares in our region.
The survey in 2016/17: when do House Martins start breeding and how many broods do they have?
This summer, sees the second season of a complementary House Martin Survey which will investigate the timing of breeding and the number of broods raised, and how this varies across the UK. We hope that this information will help us discover why trends are positive in some parts of the UK, and that this will in turn help us pinpoint the reasons for problems elsewhere. Across our region in 2016, five volunteers monitored 19 nests. Can you help us build on that number in 2017?
This summer, you choose where you monitor House Martin nests
The BTO is looking for volunteers who are able to observe a nest (or a group of nests) for a few minutes, approximately once a week, throughout the breeding season (which can last from April to September). Volunteers do not need to be able to look inside the nests, as all observations can be made from ground level (or from another vantage point where the nests can be safely viewed without disturbing the birds). After recording a small amount of information about the site on their first visit, on each subsequent visit volunteers will simply need to record the condition of each nest and what activity is taking place at the nest.
Volunteers are free to pick their own study site, which can be anywhere where House Martins are nesting. The survey is therefore ideal for those who have House Martins nesting on or near their home or place of work, but nests elsewhere can be studied provided they can be visited regularly for the whole breeding season.
The survey launches in early April when volunteers will be able to register for the survey via the BTO House Martin Survey pages, and the first survey visits should be carried out in the first half of April. If you’re interested (and why wouldn’t you be!), further information about the survey is available on the BTO House Martin website.
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.
Our friends at Glamorgan Bird Club are holding the sixth annual Big Birding Day in a few weeks time.
Big Birding Day
Sunday, 30 April 2017
Kenfig National Nature Reserve
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.
We have a fantastic team of volunteers here in our BTO region who go out once a month to do counts for the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), the monitoring scheme for non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. This survey aims to provide data for the conservation of these birds’ populations and wetland habitats. Its core period runs between September to March but I’m delighted to say that most of our volunteers in our region enjoy the survey so much that they continue doing their counts between March and August too.
So how did the team get on in 2016? Here are the headlines (2015 figures in brackets):
- In 2016, the team of East Glamorgan WeBS volunteers consisted of 39 (37) individuals
- In addition, Cardiff University’s Ornithological Society was allocated Roath Park Lake as its WeBS site last year and at least 7 of its members are now involved in conducting the counts there
- Counts were submitted from 40 (39) sites across the region
- 78 (69) species were recorded during the year on the WeBS database from our region
- The combined total of monthly records of all species from all sites across the year was 2,916 (2,657)
- All of which gave us a combined grand total count of 67,086 (71,281) birds
East Glamorgan WeBS: Top 20 Most Commonly Recorded Species in 2016
Combined total of monthly records from all sites across the year
Combined total of birds recorded
|4. Mute Swan||
|5. Canada Goose||
|6. Lesser Black-backed Gull||
|8. Black-headed Gull||
|9. Grey Heron||
|10. Herring Gull||
|11. Tufted Duck||
|12. Little Grebe||
|13. Great Crested Grebe||
|14. Grey Wagtail||
|17. Water Rail||
|19. Greylag Goose||
|20. Reed Bunting||
As usual, Mallard was the species most commonly reported across East Glamorgan in terms of the combined number of monthly records across all sites across the year and, although the counting of gulls is optional for the survey, Black-headed Gull with 10,898 came top of the pile in terms of the highest combined total of individual birds recorded.
Compared to 2015, there were increases in the number of volunteers, sites visited, the number of species recorded and the combined number of records submitted. However, the combined total of all birds of all species recorded (67,086) was 4,195 lower than in 2015 (71,281). The three biggest losers, in the Top 20 most commonly recorded species were Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Mallard. The figures for the majority of other species in the Top 20 look remarkably similar, or up on, those of 2015.
Amongst the locally scarcer birds to be recorded were: a long-staying Long-tailed Duck and Lesser Scaup at Cardiff Bay; Little Ringed Plover and Curlew Sandpiper at Ogmore Estuary; a Great Northern Diver and Common Scoter at Rest Bay, Porthcawl ; Mandarin Duck at Michaelstone-le-Pit Salmon Leaps and Bittern at Cosmeston Lakes and Kenfig Pool. The volunteers at Kenfig can also lay claim to the scarcest bird seen during a WeBS count in our region in 2016: a Temminck’s Stint.
WeBS is a great survey to undertake if you’ve never done a bird survey before or if you’re an old hand. If you’re interested in taking part in 2017 please have a look at the East Glamorgan WeBS page where you’ll find more information about available wetland sites and please feel free to get in touch for more information.
During the winter of 2015-16 the BTO ran a ‘Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey’ (NEWS) around the coastline of the UK. The purpose of this survey was to monitor important populations of several species which occur around our shores away from estuaries which are not monitored annually via the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS): species such as Oystercatcher, Purple Sandpipers and Turnstone. All the data are now in and the plan is to make them available via the WeBS Online Report next spring but, in the meantime, here are some top line NEWS headlines from the BTO East Glamorgan region.
For full details about the survey please have a look at this NEWS page. But in a nutshell, in our region, the coast between Penarth Head in the east and Kenfig Burrows in the west was split into 58 different sectors up to 2 km in length. 20 of these were designated ‘priority sectors’ which we were asked to make a special effort to cover. Volunteers were required to conduct a single count of waterbirds along each sector, recording waders as a priority, but they were encouraged to record other species such as wildfowl, seabirds, raptors, non-waterbirds and, if encountered, mammals too.
Across the UK, 1,890 priority sectors (75% of all priority sectors) and a further 1,735 non-priority sectors were covered, which equates to over 4,400 volunteer hours in the field. Thanks to the efforts of 21 brilliant volunteers, 57 of our 58 sectors in East Glamorgan, and 100% of our ‘priority sectors’, were covered for the survey. We can be forgiven for not achieving maximum coverage: the one sector we couldn’t cover was Flat Holm Island in the middle of the Severn Estuary, which proved inaccessible in the winter months! One volunteer alone covered an incredible 10 sectors.
Our volunteers counted a total of 3,937 individual birds of 50 different species during their coastal walks along the East Glamorgan coast. Excluding counts of some of the species more associated with inland areas, here are the totals for our region:
|Lesser B-b Gull||179||Grey Plover||11|
|Common Gull||111||Little Egret||4|
|Ringed Plover||46||Purple Sandpiper||2|
|Great B-b Gull||38||Guillemot||1|
These totals are made up of counts conducted on several different dates between 01 December, 2015 and 28 February, 2016. No great surprises that Herring Gull is at No.1 but, although more closely associated with inland areas, I have included the count for Carrion Crow in the table because several volunteers commented that this was the most common species seen in their sectors. There must have been rich pickings for them along the tideline.
The BTO also ran a Winter Shorebird Count in 1985 and NEWS counts in 1997/98 and 2006/07. It’ll be interesting to see how the 2015/16 counts compare. Look out for another update here once the UK results become available via the WeBS Online Report next spring.
Our thanks again to all 21 volunteers who took part in the survey.
The Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report No 54 (2015) is presented in B5 format and contains 89 pages reviewing the birding year in our region. Species account form the basis of the report, commentating on the fortunes of resident, migrant and rare birds observed during the year.
Bird of the year for many was a county first – a Great Spotted Cuckoo found in the northern reaches of the region and viewed by many during its two day stay. Another county first was a confiding Little Bunting in Cardiff, viewed and photographed by many. A Lesser Scaup continues to over-winter in the Cardiff area and its North Amercan cousin, Ring-necked Duck visited Cosmeston Lakes CP during October. The region’s second Black Stork was seen over Maesteg and Great White Egret sightings continue to grow. Other notable species included Glossy Ibis, Roseatte Tern, Wood Lark and a small influx of Yellow-browed Warbler.
Also included are a county ringing report along with accounts from our ringing groups highlight species and numbers caught and recovered. Other features are a report on the year’s weather, migrant dates, the county list, a BTO surveys report. Line drawings and photographs continue to highlight the talents of our region’s local birders.
The Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report is free to all members of the Glamorgan Bird Club.
Copies may be purchased from John Wilson:
Editor of the Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report
122 Westbourne Road
Vale of Glamorgan
tel: 02920 339424