Last year a number of intrepid volunteers took part in a Wales-wide survey of our chats – Stonechat, Whinchat and Wheatear.
The season however, was the victim of atrocious weather making visits to squares impossible for many cases. As a result, we did not quite attain the coverage needed to make meaningful scientific analysis possible.
In order to achieve our necessary target of between 300-400 surveyed squares across Wales, we will be running the survey again this spring, with some new squares to visit and some of last year’s squares which were defeated by the weather.
In our region, we have been allocated a number of new survey squares in the Valleys and uplands, which is hopefully more typical of the habitat these species frequent.
Results from the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey show that Stonechat numbers fell sharply after the last two cold winters, while Whinchat and Wheatear have shown declines in both range and numbers. Wales is one of the UK strongholds for these species.
Can You Help?
This spring, BTO Cymru is launching an online survey which will look in more detail at the distribution and habitat preferences of these three key species. This is a simple survey to undertake, requiring three one hour visits in selected 1km sqaures in April, May and June. We have over 30 1km squares in our region.
Plans are under way for a Wales-wide survey of three species of chat in 2012, the resident Stonechat and the migrant Whinchat and Wheatear. Results from the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) show that Stonechat numbers fell sharply after the last two cold winters, while Whinchat and Wheatear have shown declines in both range and numbers. Wales is a traditional stronghold for these species.
Welsh birdwatchers have noticed that our Whinchat population has disappeared from much of its traditional range, and that Wheatear is no longer a common breeding bird.
East Glamorgan is home to all three species, and many of us are witness to their changing fortunes in our uplands in particular. We hope many of you will take part in this forthcoming survey, the first for BTO Wales.