New opportunities to become a BTO Wetland Birds Survey volunteer

What do the Knap Boating Lake in Barry, Pitcot Pool in St Brides Major and Tirfounder Fields in the Cynon Valley have in common? Well, they’re all in need of new volunteers to count the waterbirds on them for the BTO’s Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). Until very recently, waterbirds at all three sites have been counted regularly for many years providing valuable data for this important national survey, as well as for local publication in the annual Eastern Glamorgan Bird Report produced by the Glamorgan Bird Club. It would be fantastic if we could find new volunteers to take on these sites, to ensure that we can continue to add to the body of information we already have for these sites. Do you think you can help?

Pitcot pond, St. Brides (GRC Blogspot)
Pitcot pond, St. Brides (http://grcforum.blogspot.com/)

If you’ve never taken part in a bird survey before WeBS is a great place to start. You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ birder; anyone can take part, even beginners to birdwatching.  Unlike many bird surveys, to carry out WeBS Counts, you don’t have to know bird songs or calls, just the ability to identify common waterbirds. The survey is as easy as 1,2,3 . . .

  1. Turn up once a month on a specified date to your allotted wetland site
  2. Count the waterbirds you see there
  3. Submit your records to the BTO – either online or on paper forms 

For more information about the survey, as well as other WeBS sites also in need of volunteers in East Glamorgan, please have a look at our WeBS page.

Today (2nd February) is World Wetlands Day, established to celebrate our wonderful wetlands and to raise awareness about their value for humanity and the planet. What better way to join in the celebrations than becoming a WeBS volunteer? If you’ve always felt that you’d like to make a practical contribution to our knowledge of birds but didn’t know where to start, then taking part in this survey is an excellent place to begin.

If you’re interested in taking part in WeBS and taking on one of these three or other vacant local sites, please get in touch.

Daniel Jenkins-Jones
WeBS Local Organiser for East Glamorgan
18 St Margaret’s Road; Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 7AA
h: 02920 621394; m: 07428 167 576
e: eastglamwebs@gmail.com

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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

Help needed for House Martins

The return of the familiar House Martin is one of the highlights of spring.  But will it be a familiar sight for future generations? In recent years, the numbers breeding in the UK have fallen by two-thirds, leading to the species being amber listed as a bird of conservation concern and in need of some help.

Although the decline hasn’t been quite as severe in Wales as it has been in England, we’ve also seen a substantial drop in numbers here too. The species was confirmed as breeding in only 98 tetrads in East Glamorgan between 2007-11, down from 173 tetrads between 1984-89 – that’s a drop of 43% (source: East Glamorgan Bird Atlas).

House Martin 2 (Doug Welch)
House Martin leaving an artificial nest (Photo: Doug Welch)

This recent decline prompted the BTO to launch a two- year research project which began in 2015, funded by BTO members and supporters through an appeal, to provide scientific evidence about House Martins to identify why they are in trouble, and hence start to look for solutions.

The survey in 2015: just how many House Martins are there in the UK?

In 2015, volunteers were asked to survey random i.e.  pre-selected 1-km squares throughout the UK in order to produce a robust population estimate to monitor future changes. The survey proved popular amongst birders in East Glamorgan with 25 counters volunteering to search for, and count House Martin nests, in 28 1-kms squares in our region.

The survey in 2016: when do House Martins start breeding and how many broods do they have?

This summer, a brand new, yet complementary, House Martin Survey will be carried out to investigate the timing of breeding and the number of broods raised, and how this varies across the UK. We hope that this information will help us discover why trends are positive in some parts of the UK, and that this will in turn help us pinpoint the reasons for problems elsewhere.

House Martin 1 (John Harding)
House Martins (Photo: John Harding)

This summer, you choose where you monitor House Martin nests

The BTO is looking for volunteers who are able to observe a nest (or a group of nests) for a few minutes, approximately once a week, throughout the breeding season (which can last from April to September). Volunteers do not need to be able to look inside the nests, as all observations can be made from ground level (or from another vantage point where the nests can be safely viewed without disturbing the birds). After recording a small amount of information about the site on their first visit, on each subsequent visit volunteers will simply need to record the condition of each nest and what activity is taking place at the nest.

Volunteers are free to pick their own study site, which can be anywhere where House Martins are nesting.  The survey is therefore ideal for those who have House Martins nesting on or near their home or place of work, but nests elsewhere can be studied provided they can be visited regularly for the whole breeding season.

The survey launches today (17th March), when volunteers will be able to register for the survey via the BTO House Martin Survey pages, and the first survey visits should be carried out in the first half of April. If you’re interested (and why wouldn’t you be!), further information about the survey is available on the BTO House Martin website.

Woodpigeon Migration: Volunteers Wanted

Anyone birding our coast over the last few days, will have witnessed a steady stream of Swallows moving through as they begin their autumn migration south. For some, this whets the appetite for other migration spectacles to come.

In late October and early November huge numbers of Woodpigeons move through south east Wales.  Large numbers are well documented in the East Glamorgan Bird Report, and peak counts are up to 10,000 – 30,000 birds per hour at Peterstone Wentlooge, Gwent.

Wood Pigeons by Pig Sty Avenue, on Flickr
Wood Pigeons by Pig Sty Avenue, on Flickr

It is thought that these birds are of British origin, as there are few records of incoming flocks on the east coast at that time of year. From what is known, many birds move south west over the English Midlands and seem to get ‘bottled up’ somewhere in the area from Forest of Dean through to the area between the rivers Wye and Severn. It is not clear how they reach the south Wales coast from there, but they do, in large numbers and continue to move westwards through Gwent and Glamorgan and probably leave the Welsh coast at some unknown point heading southwards into south west England

This year, Adrian Plant, would like to get together a coordinated observation of direction and numbers. It’s not known if Woodpigeons enter our region via the Severn, Wye or Usk nor how far west they travel in Wales before heading out to sea. He would like to get a small group of observers stationed at a few critical points to try and sort this out. In Glamorgan, it would need someone at Lavernock Point (perhaps also further inland as many birds follow the edge of the line of hills in Gwent and may also do so in Glamorgan). Also somebody looking seaward and inland in the Kenfig area, and of course if sites further west could be managed then all the better. Possible dates would be preferably the weekend of 2/3 November or perhaps 9/10 November. It would be best if all observers were in ‘phone contact with each other to help better coordinate things.

Are you willing to participate for 1 or 2 days?

Please contact Adrian, if you’d like to get involved.

Adrian Plant
e-mail: adrian.plant@museumwales.ac.uk