Do you fancy sexing some ducks this winter?

Will you be out birding in wetland areas in East Glamorgan or elsewhere this month (January 2019)? If so, you may want to help out with this easy, yet important, survey.

This month, waterbird counters and bird watchers across Europe, North Africa and Southwest Asia are being asked to collect the male/female sex ratio data of the counts of wildfowl they make. You may have taken part in something similar back in January 2016, when birdwatchers were asked to note the sex ratio of the Common Pochard they recorded while out birding or conducting a Wetland Bird Survey count. The results of that study can be found here.

Counting the number of females and males in flocks of wildfowl is an easy way to help gather information on population structures and can even provide a crude assessment of changes in survival rates between the sexes.

pintail - jill pakenham
Male Pintail (Photo: Jill Pakenham)

Please do consider helping. It’s quick, easy and fun! Counters are being asked to simply record the number of males and females in flocks that they observe. Sex ratio counts are welcomed at other times of the winter too.

Your sex ratio counts can be submitted via BirdTrack or via this website http://www.ducksg.org/projects/sexratios/ , where you’ll also find more information about this study and how to take part.

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Get 2019 off to a flying start by taking part in the BTO BirdTrack #100CompleteLists challenge

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda / Happy New Year to you all!

If you are looking for a birding challenge for 2019, why not try the BTO BirdTrack #100CompleteLists Challenge? The maths is easy – the challenge is to log an average of just two complete lists every week at your local patch or further afield.

BTO Birdwatcher 3

BirdTrack is a project that looks at migration movements and distributions of birds throughout Britain and Ireland. It also provides facilities for observers to store and manage their own personal records as well as using these to support species conservation at local, regional, national and international scales.

The idea behind BirdTrack is that, if you have been out birdwatching or simply watching the birds in your garden, records of the birds you have seen can be useful data. The scheme is year-round, and ongoing, and anyone with an interest in birds can contribute.

BTO Birdwatcher

The success of BirdTrack relies on your birdwatching lists. Simply make a note of the birds you see, either out birdwatching or from the office or garden for example, and enter your daily observations on a simple-to-use web page or via the free App for iPhone and Android devices. You can really help the BTO to gather the large number of lists it needs at all times of the year from throughout Britain and Ireland.

Complete lists are the most useful BirdTrack data the BTO receives and all that is required to submit a complete list is to enter all bird species you positively identified in your visit. There should also be a reasonable attempt made to cover most of the site you are visiting. Incomplete lists and casual records can also be entered because they too build our understanding of populations, distributions and movements.

If you are taking part, why not let us know how you’re getting on through social media using the #100CompleteLists hashtag.

Your Curlew Sightings are Important

The critical decline of Curlew is well documented and your help is required in reporting all sightings of recently colour-ringed birds.

Some Curlew wintering on the Usk and Severn have been ringed, using six rings on the legs. These birds may of course travel west and be seen here in East Glamorgan. Information on their whereabouts will help conservation efforts.

The key colour rings to identify individuals are the single ring on the left tibia (upper leg – orange in photo), and the two rings on the right tibia (blue and lime green in photo).  There is a metal ring on the right tarsus, and two colours on the left tarsus to denote the project (yellow and white in photo).

Colour-ringed Curlew

Andrew Strong is collating information on re-sightings of any of these birds on behalf of the BTO. Please email Andrew details of any colour-ringed Curlew that you see, to aj.strong@icloud.com, and he’ll get back in touch with you to let you know the birds’ history.

Usk marked wintering birds have been reported on their breeding grounds in both Poland and Finland. Any further sightings of your birds will be published in the Gwent Ornithological Society Newsletter, or see http://www.curlewcall.org

Nest Record Scheme Taster Day, Rudry Common, 13 May, 2018

Have you ever considered becoming a BTO nest recorder but felt unsure about how to get started?

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. This important data can form a key part of the information required to help the conservation of birds now, and in the future.

Anyone can be a nest recorder, no matter how experienced you are as a birder. It is a highly rewarding Scheme to be involved with, improving your general birdwatching and observation skills and therefore your enjoyment of birding.

Until very recently, there were very few people nest recording regularly in Glamorgan. We’re glad to say that numbers have started to grow slowly over the last few years and there are the beginnings of a network of nest recorders in the county.

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

However, to put nest recording on a more sustainable footing locally, and across Wales, we’re looking to recruit more volunteers to contribute to this important scheme.

With this in mind, a Nest Record Scheme Taster Day for new volunteers will be held at Rudry Common, near Caerphilly,  between 8:00am – 4:00pm, 13 May 2018.

The day will be run by members of the Fledgemore Nest Recording Group, and provides an introduction to monitoring nests, how to follow the all-important Code of Conduct to ensure 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. There will be a charge of £10 per person to cover costs. If there is any money left over will be donated to the BTO.

Taster Day 2018 Participants
2017 Nest Recording Taster Day participants (Photo: Dan Jenkins-Jones)

Spaces on this event are limited. If you’re interested in attending or would like more information, please contact:

Dan Jenkins-Jones
e: eastglamwebs@gmail.com
h: 029 20 621394
m: 07703 607601

More information about the Nest Records Scheme is available online. We’ve also written short articles about nest recording on this site over the last few years – articles which will hopefully give you some further personal insight about the experiences of taking part in the Scheme:

Local Open Day

On 26 March, we were pleased to hold our first local BTO Open Day at Parc Slip NR.  Over twenty members and volunteers joined us to meet friends, old and new, and share our interest in bird studies.

We were pleased to hear Dr Rob Parry of the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales describe conservation activity around the reserve as it tries to protect and create suitable breeding for little ringed plover and lapwing on this former coalfield site.

Next, Kelvin Jones, BTO Cymru’s Development Officer, gave a news update from BTO and explained how volunteers can get involved with a range of volunteer surveys.

Dan and Wayne then shared information about the House Martin Survey and Nest Record Scheme, before we all enjoyed lunch at the reserve’s excellent coffee shop.  The indoor session concluded with local updates on BBS and WeBS.

bbs

Most volunteers then opted to join one of the field exercises where we ran through the methodology involved in conducting a BBS survey or learned the art of nest finding.  Though bird numbers were low, we were able to use the call method to detect a few species and map and habitat code our transect routes.  A partially built long-tailed tit nest, and sitting song thrush were reward for the nest finders.

Thanks to all participants who made the day a success, and to those volunteering for their first BTO survey.

Good luck,  and we look forward to our next event.

Come and Meet Us

We are pleased to be hosting our first BTO Glamorgan Open Day.  An opportunity for members, volunteers and all with an interest in bird studies to meet like-minded people, and get a taste of one or more of the BTO’s volunteer surveys.

10:00am – 2:00pm
Sunday, 26 March 2017

Parc Slip Nature Reserve
Fountain Road
Aberkenfig
Bridgend CF32 0EH

Birdwatchers
Birdwatchers by Ken Mattison on Flickr

 

Kelvin Jones, BTO Cymru’s Development Officer, will be attending, and we plan to have both indoor and outdoor activities, including a quiz, some short presentations and practical survey exercises around the reserve.

Dr Rob Parry of the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales will also bring us up to date with bird conservation activity around the the reserve, including the latest on the Lapwing Project.

The event is free of charge, but spaces are limited so please book early to secure a place.

Programme

Indoor activities

10:00am
Welcome
Wayne Morris

10:10am
Bird conservation developments at Parc Slip NR
Dr Rob Parry, Conservation Manager, WTSWW

10:30am
BTO news
Kelvin Jones, Development Officer, BTO Wales

10:50am
Getting involved in BTO surveys
Kelvin Jones, Development Officer, BTO Wales

11:20am
House Martin Survey
Daniel Jenkins-Jones

11:30am
Nest Records Scheme
Wayne Morris, BTO Regional Representative in East Glamorgan
Daniel Jenkins-Jones

12:00pm
Lunch
Bring your own, or use Parc Slip NR coffee shop

12:45pm
Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)
Wayne Morris

13:30pm
Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS)
Daniel Jenkins-Jones

13:55pm
How you can support BTO
Kelvin Jones

Outdoor activities

Bring binoculars, notepad and boots.  Sample survey forms will be provided.

14:00pm
Survey taster sessions

  • BirdTrack
  • BBS
  • WeBS
  • NRS
  • etc

Kelvin Jones, Wayne Morris, Daniel Jenkins-Jones

NEWS Headlines from East Glamorgan

During the winter of 2015-16 the BTO ran a ‘Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey’ (NEWS) around the coastline of the UK. The purpose of this survey was to monitor important populations of several species which occur around our shores away from estuaries which are not monitored annually via the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS): species such as Oystercatcher, Purple Sandpipers and Turnstone. All the data are now in and the plan is to make them available via the WeBS Online Report next spring but, in the meantime, here are some top line NEWS headlines from the BTO East Glamorgan region.

purple-sandpipers-ogmore-by-sea-jeff-slocombe
Purple Sandpiper, Ogmore-by-Sea (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

For full details about the survey please have a look at this NEWS page. But in a nutshell, in our region, the coast between Penarth Head in the east and Kenfig Burrows in the west was split into 58 different sectors up to 2 km in length. 20 of these were designated ‘priority sectors’ which we were asked to make a special effort to cover. Volunteers were required to conduct a single count of waterbirds along each sector, recording waders as a priority, but they were encouraged to record other species such as wildfowl, seabirds, raptors, non-waterbirds and, if encountered, mammals too.

Across the UK, 1,890 priority sectors (75% of all priority sectors) and a further 1,735 non-priority sectors were covered, which equates to over 4,400 volunteer hours in the field. Thanks to the efforts of 21 brilliant volunteers, 57 of our 58 sectors in East Glamorgan, and 100% of our ‘priority sectors’, were covered for the survey. We can be forgiven for not achieving maximum coverage: the one sector we couldn’t cover was Flat Holm Island in the middle of the Severn Estuary, which proved inaccessible in the winter months! One volunteer alone covered an incredible 10 sectors.

turnstone-3-jeff-slocombe
Turnstone, Ogmore-by-Sea (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Our volunteers counted a total of 3,937 individual birds of 50 different species during their coastal walks along the East Glamorgan coast. Excluding counts of some of the species more associated with inland areas, here are the totals for our region:

Species Total Species Total
Herring Gull 1420 Cormorant 20
Black-headed gull 760 Shelduck 17
Oystercatcher 357 Dunlin 13
Carrion Crow 236 Sanderling 13
Lesser B-b Gull 179 Grey Plover 11
Fulmar 145 Redshank 10
Golden Plover 120 Peregrine 8
Common Gull 111 Little Egret 4
Turnstone 99 Med Gull 2
Ringed Plover 46 Purple Sandpiper 2
Wigeon 45 Chough 1
Great B-b Gull 38 Guillemot 1
Curlew 35 Snipe 1
Rock Pipit 30 Whimbrel 1
Brent Goose 28

 

These totals are made up of counts conducted on several different dates between 01 December, 2015 and 28 February, 2016. No great surprises that Herring Gull is at No.1 but, although more closely associated with inland areas, I have included the count for Carrion Crow in the table because several volunteers commented that this was the most common species seen in their sectors.  There must have been rich pickings for them along the tideline.

The BTO also ran a Winter Shorebird Count in 1985 and NEWS counts in 1997/98 and 2006/07. It’ll be interesting to see how the 2015/16 counts compare. Look out for another update here once the UK results become available via the WeBS Online Report next spring.

Our thanks again to all 21 volunteers who took part in the survey.