Posts tagged ‘nrs’
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 a dozen 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 8th. 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 in Glamorgan 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 as soon as possible for more information.
I’m delighted to say the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme (NRS) is growing in popularity in Glamorgan. This Scheme gathers vital information on the breeding success of Britain’s birds by asking volunteers to find and follow the progress of individual birds’ nests. Anyone can be a nest recorder, and by carefully following the NRS Code of Conduct, monitoring does not influence a nest’s outcome. Some people submit only one or two records a year while others find and monitor nests of a whole range of species. Even the Blackbird or Blue Tit nest in your garden can provide valuable data for conservationists.
In 2014, the NRS’s 75th anniversary, 18 volunteers submitted nest records from Glamorgan – up from 11 volunteers in 2013. Between them they submitted a total of 781 records for 48 species (2013: 421 records for 51 species).
There were some notable nest records in 2014: both Cuckoo and Kittiwake were new species for the Glamorgan NRS database, the latter bursting on the scene with a total of no fewer than 91 records during the year; the 10 nest records for Barn Owl and 3 records for Great Crested Grebe almost trebled the number of records received from Glamorgan for these species in the entire history of the Scheme, and the 4 House Martin records doubled the number or records on the Glamorgan database.
Glamorgan Nest Record Totals 2014
(Species marked * are BTO Priority Species / species marked with a ‘+’ are on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 and require a licence to be obtained before monitoring).
|Barn Owl +||10|
|Great Crested Grebe||3|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker||2|
For more information about nest recording and how you can take part please visit the BTO’s Nest Recording webpages. You can also search for all Glamorgan’s nest records between 2007-14 by going to Online Nesting Reports page.
“I’ve got an endoscope, and I’m not afraid to use it!” – Tales of a BTO Nest Record Scheme training weekend
I’ve been birding for a long old time, 35 years in fact. During that time I’ve gone on a few twitches, I’ve been on birding trips all over the UK and I’ve enjoyed taking part in several BTO surveys. But, over the last few days, I’ve been bitten by a new bug which has added a totally new dimension to my birding . . . over the Bank Holiday weekend I became a ‘nester’.
Wayne and I had booked on to a BTO Nest Recording Scheme training course and last Friday evening (May 3rd) we met up with 6 other trainees at the BTO’s HQ at Thetford in Norfolk. Over the next couple of days our trainers (Dave Leech, Carl Barimore and Mike Toms from the BTO) passed on a whole load of fascinating tips about how to track down a variety of species (some of whom can be a real challenge) as well as the simple tools of the trade you need to go nesting.
First of all of course, it was impressed upon us that the welfare of birds should always come first and that BTO nest recording is based on a Code of Conduct, which is a protocol designed to ensure that monitoring a nest does not influence its outcome.
Next up were the tools of the trade. The good news is that you don’t need many: a stick to ‘tap’ vegetation in your search for birds; a mirror-on-a-stick is useful to look into nests above head height, a notebook to record your data and a pair of bins. And that’s pretty much all you need.
There are a variety of ways of finding your nest. It very much depends on your target species. In a nutshell though, the methods split into two ways of working: ‘arsing’ and ‘legging’. ‘Arsing’ involves sitting on your . . . erm, arse, and watching birds back to the nest as they carry nesting material or food. Having nailed the vicinity of the nest you can then ‘hot search’ for it.
‘Legging’ calls for a bit more action, where you actively search for nests (‘cold searching’), narrowing your odds by searching in suitable habitat. So, no matter what type of birder you are, there’s a method of nesting to suit you. In reality of course, you end up doing a bit of both.
Dave, Carl and Mike were clearly passionate about NRS and were brilliant trainers. With their help we managed to find the nests of a nice variety of birds: Dunnock, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Greylag Goose, Coot, Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Red-legged Partridge & Pheasant. The highlights were finding a Treecreeper and a Woodlark nest (Dave Leech had a Schedule 1 licence to go looking for the latter) but, personally speaking, learning how to use Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers intriguing off nest behaviour to find their nests was the most rewarding experience. To find out what I mean, you’ll have to become a Nest Recorder!
So why should you volunteer to contribute your records to the NRS? ‘Nesting’ has become a bit of a dying art in the UK since legislation was quite rightly passed in 1954 to make it illegal to take the eggs of most wild birds. But, tracking the fortunes of birds’ nesting attempts is vital to collect data which are used to produce trends in breeding performance. These data help identify species that may be declining because of problems at the nesting stage. After years of decline there’s been a recent upturn in the number of nest records being submitted to the BTO. But far more are needed and there’s a real ‘call to arms’ for more people to take up nesting, particularly here in Wales where more nest data are desperately needed.
Anyone can be a nest recorder and it’s entirely up to you how much time you want to dedicate to the Scheme. Some people watch a single nest box in their back garden, while others spend hundreds of hours finding and monitoring nests in the wider countryside.
Of course, you don’t have to take part in a training weekend to take part in NRS. You can learn a lot about nesting through trial and error, and most birders will have a good knowledge of which areas of habitat will host particular species of nesting birds. If you think you might be interested in taking part please visit the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme website. Or you’re more than welcome to contact either Wayne or myself for an informal chat. We’d be delighted to hear from you.
Ask birders over a particular age what sparked their interest in birding and they’ll often say that it all began with ‘birdnesting’ or ‘egging’ – collecting wild birds’ eggs. As late as the mid-1950s there was a thriving playground economy with eggs, particularly those of scarce birds, being bought and sold for good money. It’s not surprising that boys (and it was almost always boys) became very adept at finding the nests of many species. But, thankfully the Wild Birds Protection Act 1954 made it illegal to collect eggs and, despite a few hardcore egg thieves remaining, the practice has largely disappeared and has become very much a taboo amongst birders.
However, the demise of ‘nesting’ has also led to the loss of those skills once employed to find nests – skills that, if people could be persuaded to re-discover them, and if they adhere to the Code of Conduct, could be of huge benefit to bird conservation.
Explaining why numbers of some species of birds are crashing can be difficult. More often than not a complex suite of factors are responsible. It can be like a jigsaw puzzle where you need all the pieces to be able to get the complete picture – and that’s where ‘nest recording’ is so vitally important.
Volunteers who monitor nests and submit their data to the BTO through the Nest Recording Scheme (NRS) help build up a picture of nest productivity i.e. how successful each species’ nesting attempts are in terms of numbers of eggs laid and chicks fledged. Over the years, patterns appear which can help explain whether breeding productivity is one of the reasons for the demise, or indeed the success, of a species. If breeding productivity doesn’t appear to be a factor then it’s clear that there are other issues involved.
But, the NRS needs more volunteers and, with the breeding season just beginning, why not strike while the iron’s hot and get involved?
Reading the BTO’s A Field Guide to Monitoring Nests is a great introduction to the lost art of finding birds’ nests and how to monitor them safely. As you would expect, it has comprehensive species accounts – over 146 in total – each one a wealth of information about the nesting biology of each species: nest structure; when, where and how many eggs are laid; egg colour; number of broods etc.
There are also a whole host of tips about how to go about finding birds’ nests. There are techniques for those who may prefer the patient or proactive approach. We’re guided through the NRS methodology and what information should be recorded. But, of course, there is the caution that the welfare of birds should always come first and that BTO nest recording is based on the Code of Conduct, which is a protocol designed to ensure that monitoring a nest does not influence its outcome. There is an introductory guide to wildlife legislation which includes a list of Schedule 1 species whose nests much not be approached without a license. And we’re also asked that nests of other species should never be approached or searched for unless the intention is to submit the information collected to the NRS.
For more information please visit the BTO’s NRS pages. And, best of all, if you join the BTO now and pay by direct debit you can have the option of receiving a free copy of A Field Guide to Monitoring Birds (worth £24.99).
You can become a Nest Recorder by submitting the record of just one nest – and that record could be the blue tits nesting in your garden nestbox. Every record is valuable.