Posts tagged ‘bto cymru’
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.
The BTO’s strength in Wales is a testimony to the efforts of all its volunteers. For many years, BTOs Honorary Wales Officer, John Lloyd, and his team of volunteer Regional Representatives have promoted the Trust’s work, leading training events and recruiting birders to take part in surveys.
In 2010, a BTO Cymru Appeal was launched, which has attracted £32,000 from birdwatchers, and widespread and long‑term support for the new Welsh Office is being sought.
We are delighted to announce that a new office, based at Bangor University, is now open, with three key aims for the next few years:
- attract more volunteers and members – so that we can provide more comprehensive information on important species of Welsh habitats – whether they be Pied Flycatchers in oak woods, farmland Lapwings, coastal ducks or House Sparrows in gardens
- work with partners in Wales, particularly the Welsh Ornithological Society, RSPB and CCW, so that we can develop studies and research which can explain rapid changes in numbers for species such as Curlew on upland farms
- develop a Welsh voice for the BTO, focusing on issues that are important to Welsh birdwatchers – providing information in both English and Welsh
Two key appointments were identified for the new office:
- Development Officer to work with Regional Representatives, to recruit more volunteers, promote the work of the Trust, develop courses for birdwatchers and represent the BTO in the media
- Senior Ecologist to be the link between science teams at Thetford HQ and potential partner organisations in Wales, helping to focus attention on issues facing birds in Wales and other western parts of Britain. New surveys and ecological projects will all strengthen evidence-based conservation.
Kelvin Jones has been appointed as the BTO Cymru Development Officer and Dr Rachel Taylor is our new Senior Ecologist and will take up her new post later this year.
Kelvin has been passionate about birds since childhood and for many years like others, just did his own thing, not realizing there was a side of birding to which he could make a meaningful contribution. On a quiet afternoon in 1991, he was diligently patrolling Porthmadog High Street, when he came across a number of young people all stood at the harbour bridge looking at something. The group was led by local RSPB stalwart, Reg Thorpe, who pointed out a Black Guillemot. From here on Kelvin was recruited for BTOs Nightjar survey and subsequently took up training as a ringer, and the rest as they say is history.
Kelvin has been very active bird surveying, being an Assistant RR Caernarfonshire and Meirionydd, is on the North Wales Atlas Committee, and has been Chair of the Wales Raptor Study Group for several years. He is looking forward to work with the team of Regional Representatives, offering support at shows and training events.
Rachel currently works for Bangor University and was a late starter in bird ecology, starting out in biochemistry and physiology with field experience studying reptiles in the UK and southern Europe. Her PhD started out on ‘the influence of spatial scaling in tropical biodiversity’, but having realised that birds would be the ideal study group in tropical farmland, in 2002 she turned up on the BTO’s doorstep as an aspiring trainee ringer with huge enthusiasm but absolutely no birding experience at all. Three years and 1800 Costa Rican birds (plus rather a lot of UK passerines, waders and seabirds) later, bird ecology, ringing and the effects of agriculture on the natural environment had become the focus of her work (and play!) and remain so to this day.
Rachel is an active bird ringer with SCAN (North Wales) and the Wash Wader Ringing Groups, amongst other projects. She anticipates a very challenging and exciting time helping to raise the profile of the BTO in Wales and working with the BTO’s committed and talented volunteers, alongside partners in Government and conservation organisations to help secure the future of Wales’ iconic and charismatic birds.
Welcome Kelvin and Rachel, we look forward to working with you.