BTO Nest Record Scheme Taster Day, Rudry Common, Sunday May 8th

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.

Meadow Pipit Nest 2015 b
Meadow Pipit nest (Photo: Dan Jenkins-Jones)

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

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:

If you’re interested in attending please contact Dan Jenkins-Jones at / (029) 2062 1394 as soon as possible for more information.


Record Birds on the Wales Coastal Path

Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax) by talis qualis, on Flickr
Red-billed Chough by talis qualis, on Flickr

With migrants finally arriving back thick and fast, early May promises to offer some great birding. For birdwatchers in Wales, there couldn’t be a better time to take part in the Wales Coast Path Birdrace 2012 on Saturday 5 May, organised by Visit Wales to help launch the Wales Coast Path.

The event will encourage people to record birds anywhere along the entire length of the path, and BirdTrack provides the ideal way to capture these records.

Smartphone users with an Android handset can now download the BirdTrack app.  AndroidThe app allows BirdTrackers to collect casual records within Britain and Ireland.  Records can be collected offline, then verified and uploaded later, when convenient. GPS integration is included.

Don’t forget that birdwatchers in Wales can also help monitor the fortunes of Wheatear, Stonechat and Whinchat through this year’s Wales Chat Survey.

Explore All Your Records in BirdTrack

BirdTrack is an online facility for observers to store and manage their own personal bird records.  By pooling data from recorders across the Britain and Ireland, patterns in bird migration movements and distributions are revealed,  supporting species conservation at local, regional, national and international scales.

The service continues to develop and its now possible to explore all your records, including any you submitted directly to Bird Atlas 2007-11, via BirdTrack.

The default filter in the Explore My Records tool selects all your BirdTrack and Atlas records, or you can use the Project filter (highlighted by the red arrow, right) to single out your records from one of the two projects.  Your records are summarised in a table; from here you can navigate to various graphs and maps, or download the records you’ve chosen.

If you are using BirdTrack already then you may find these new features a great way of managing and reviewing your own personal data.  If you are not a BirdTrack user yet, then there’s never been a better time to get started.

Keep Recording with BirdTrack

Swifts are surely high on many people’s list a favourite birds. They typically arrive in the UK in late April and depart in July and August. An all too brief visit to our shores.

Their departure is a timely reminder that there is still great value in recording your bird sightings throughout the year.  Recording breeding activity and counting bird numbers at roosts, water bodies and on our local patches are important of course, but capturing arrival and departure times of our migrant birds is of great value too.

Martinet noir by Max.Bth, on Flickr
Martinet noir by Max.Bth, on Flickr

BirdTrack has its routes in the early 2000s with the Migration Watch initiative. Migration Watch was able to record the timing of arrivals and pattern of migratory spread of summer visitors across Britain and Ireland. BirdTrack expands on this as a year round recording package so that we can also study autumn migration (a much bigger challenge) and other movements and distributions.

As with Migration Watch, BTO are interested in not just when the first birds arrive or the last ones depart, but also want to know when the bulk of the population has arrived or departed (whether summer or winter visitors). Interesting information about passage migrants, such as inland wader movements can be gleaned.

BirdTrack has developed significantly over the years and continues to look at ways of further improving through added features. You can have a say in how it develops by completing a short questionnaire.

Whether you’re new to recording, a dedicated Atlaser looking for a new way to submit your sightings or an existing BirdTrack user, there are very good reasons to keep recording all year round.

Garden Recording

Wood Pigeon by Marc Davison, on Flickr
Wood Pigeon by Marc Davison, on Flickr

The latest Garden BirdWatch Newsletter has just landed in my email box.

A short feature on the appearance of Woodpigeons in gardens struck a chord, as a lone bird has started visiting our garden just this last week.  It looks a little out of place in my urban back yard, and its the first time I’ve recorded the species at home.  A garden tick!

Like many other volunteers, my weekly counts of garden birds are added to the Garden BirdWatch scheme.  The records provide a valuable insight into the importance of our gardens to Britain’s bird life, and as individuals we can see how our own records form part of the national picture.

It seems that June or July are the months when this species occupies a greater percentage of gardens than at any other time of year.   My Woodpigeon then, wasn’t lost after all, but was following an established species trend.

More details of the Garden BirdWatch scheme are available.

Why not sign up and make your garden’s birds count?

Night Shift? Your Records Wanted

Moon Sky by garryknight, on Flickr
Moon Sky by garryknight, on Flickr

We are now into the final two months of Bird Atlas 2007-11, and we’re looking to collect as many records of species that are only really active during the latter part of the day.  Evenings on still summer days is an excellent time to prove the presence of Quail, detected by their characteristic call.

Other crepuscular species for which you may be able to gather valuable records at that time of day – if you are out in the right habitat – include Nightjar, Owls, Water Rail and Grasshopper Warbler.

Remember, if you discover any of these species during your visits, please enter a suitable breeding code, even H for Habitat or S for Singing is a valuable record.

Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS)

Common Blue Butterfly by gmajsicmtc, on Flickr
Common Blue Butterfly by gmajsicmtc, on Flickr

The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) will be running from 2011 for at least another 3 years in a similar fashion to 2009 and 2010, as a collaborative project with Butterfly Conservation, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and BTO.

The aim of WCBS is to get a representative picture of the status of butterflies in widespread habitats such as lowland intensive farmland and upland grassland and moorland.  Results of the 2010 survey are now online.

The survey is carried out on your usual BBS route to enable future comparisons between birds and butterflies.  The survey requires that you make separate visits between June and August (i.e. in addition to BBS visits)  to your BBS square, recording butterflies with optional recording of day-flying moths and dragonflies.

More details about the survey and its methodology are available.

If you have any questions about WCBS, please contact:

Kate Risley
BBS National Organiser
tel: 01843 750050