Posts tagged ‘training’

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.

March 28, 2016 at 3:26 pm 6 comments

BTO Volunteer Surveys Training Event

Members, volunteers and potential volunteers are invited to an afternoon meeting to meet other volunteers, share experiences and learn about existing and future BTO surveys. The event will be held at:

10:00am – 3:00pm, 28 March 2015

Llangasty Village Hall
Brecon, LD3 7PJ

The agenda has not been finalised so we are asking you what you would like. We can offer an introduction to BBS, update on BirdTrack, learn about the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, the Wetland Bird Survey, the Heronries Census or the 2015 House Martin Survey. The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) always needs new surveyors and there are some vacant squares this year as volunteers retire or move away from the area.

Kelvin Jones the BTO Cymru Development Officer will be hosting the meeting. Tea and coffee and afternoon refreshments will be available.

Please contact Kelvin if you’d like to attend:

Kelvin Jones
BTO Wales Development Officer
BTO Cymru, Thoday Building, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW

t: 01248 383285
m: 07979 713282

February 14, 2015 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

“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.

The tools of the trade: a stick, a mirror-on-a-stick and a pair of bins. (Note: a glamorous assistant is not required).

The tools of the trade: a stick, a mirror-on-a-stick and a pair of bins. (Note: a glamorous assistant is not required).

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.

A fine example of 'arsing' - watching a Willow Warbler back to its nest.

A fine example of ‘arsing’ – watching a Willow Warbler back to its nest.

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’ invariably involves a lot of sticking your head into bushes

‘Legging’ invariably involves a lot of sticking your head into bushes

‘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.

Excitedly wielding an endoscope, Dave and Mike look into a Treecreeper's nest. Endoscopes aren't an essential bit of kit, but useful for hole nesters.

Excitedly wielding an endoscope, Dave and Mike look into a Treecreeper’s nest. Endoscopes aren’t an essential bit of kit, but useful for hole nesters.

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!

A work of art as well as being excellently camouflaged  . . . a Chiffchaff's nest.

A work of art as well as being excellently camouflaged . . . a Chiffchaff’s nest.

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.

Subtle or what? A Willow Warbler's nest.

Subtle or what? A Willow Warbler’s nest.

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.

May 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm 5 comments

Volunteers Sign-up for BBS

An enjoyable joint east and west Glamorgan BBS Training Day took place at Kenfig National Nature Reserve on 18 March.  Eleven volunteers were introduced to the BBS (Breeding Bird Survey), its background and methodology.  A couple of sessions on the reserve, demonstrated the practical aspects of plotting transect routes and recording birds and habitat along them.

Volunteers at the Glamorgan BBS Training Day, Kenfig NNR

Volunteers at the Glamorgan BBS Training Day, Kenfig NNR

Thanks go to Kenfig NNR for hosting our event, and of course, all our volunteers for contributing to its success and signing up for their 1km squares to survey.

It’s not too late to take part this year if you are interested – we have a few squares available.  More details about local BBS can be found, or contact:

Wayne Morris
 h: 01443 430284
m: 07890 528926

March 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm Leave a comment

BBS Training Day

The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is the most important national monitoring scheme in the UK.  Since 1994 it has been the means by which we monitor populations of most of our common birds, and establishes bird population trends for the UK.  The trends are published in the annual BBS report.

Goldfinch by Sergey Yeliseev, on Flickr

Goldfinch by Sergey Yeliseev, on Flickr

The survey is designed to be a simple and enjoyable birdwatching exercise.  Volunteers make just three visits to randomly-located 1-km squares, the first to record habitat and to set up a suitable survey route, and the second and third to record birds that are seen or heard while walking along the route.

A training event for those interested in participating in BBS is being held this spring.  We’ll be offering an introduction to BBS, and provide both classroom and field instruction on the methods used.

The course is free and open to all, and though you don’t need to be a world-class birder to take part, you should be able to identify common birds by sight and sound.  We are especially keen to welcome Atlas volunteers who wish to continue BTO survey work.


Kenfig National Nature Reserve (map)
Sunday 18 March

Bring binoculars, boots or wellingtons and a packed lunch

09:30 – Welcome
09:45 – Introduction to BBS
10:00 – Field recording methodology
10:30 – Tea and coffee
10:45 – Field recording
11:45 – Compiling and discussing results
12:15 – Lunch
13:00 – Habitat recording methodology
13:15 – Habitat recording
14:00 – Compiling and discussing results
14:30 – Summing up
15:00 – Close

Please complete the form below if you’d like to attend, or contact Wayne if you’d like to know more:

February 13, 2012 at 10:22 am Leave a comment


BTO on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 34 other followers