The Winter Thrushes Survey resumed on 15 September 2013, with the start of the winter walks recording period. In two parts, the aim of this survey is to identify the key habitats and food sources used by our passage and wintering thrush species – Blackbird, Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Song Thrush.
The survey methods and procedures are unchanged in this second and final year, except that we are no longer collecting data for species other than thrushes, i.e. Starling and Waxwing.
The first part of the survey is based on volunteers selecting their own chosen sites, based on 1km squares, and collecting information on thrushes each time they walk there. Walks can be made any time during the survey period. The second part of the survey entails a single visit to randomly selected, core sets of squares for synchronized counts. These results, because of the random selection, will be far more applicable to wider regions or the UK as a whole as a snapshot of thrush distribution and food in mid-winter.
Both parts of the survey involve walking along a chosen route, recording all thrushes seen, sighting location, key habitat features and food resources associated with each thrush or flock of thrushes noted.
If you surveyed last season, then you can use your own existing sites for winter walks, select others or carry out the midwinter count in your core square. The core count period is 27 December 2013 to 10 January 2014. Repeat walks along the same routes as last year will be especially valuable.
Across the country, during the survey’s first winter, over 1,600 observers made more than 12,600 visits to over 3,100 different sites, counting more than 811,000 birds. These numbers easily exceeded expectations and enable BTO to do even more with the results. In our region, we had 39 volunteers monitoring in over 70 1km over the September to April recording period, including coverage in 40 core squares. We are very grateful for your part in this major citizen-science project.
Despite a massive late-October movement of thrushes on parts of the North Sea coast in 2012, thrush numbers through the winter were lower than usual in most places across the UK – a poor berry crop apparently prompting many birds to move quickly onwards.
The survey’s web pages and data module have been updated and the BTO’s database is already set to begin receiving your new season’s data. With a heavier berry crop to support the thrushes this winter, we should discover how their numbers and food sources can differ between two consecutive winter seasons and to what extent conclusions from the survey can be generalised across winters, regions and habitat types.
We have a few vacant core squares, and we’d be delighted to hear from new volunteers to these or indeed those electing to chose their own winter walk routes.
tel: 01443 430284