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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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.

New Pochard Survey – Winter 2015-16

Common Pochard are becoming increasingly uncommon in East Glamorgan. Looking at my own Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS ) site, Roath Park Lake, you only have to go back ten years or so and you’d regularly see 50+, occasionally 100+, birds there during the winter months. Now, I’m more likely to see only 5 or 6. But this phenomenon isn’t only happening here. Wintering Pochard numbers are dropping across the UK.

But what’s driving this decline? Well, the Duck Specialist Group, through the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the UK has set up a project asking people to record sex ratios of Pochard in the hope this will give them an insight into reasons for declines.

Pochard (RSPB Images)
Common Pochard (Photo: RSPB Images)

If you’re lucky enough to record Pochard whilst out birding this winter – in East Glamorgan or elsewhere – can you please make a note of the male to female sex ratio at the site and submit these additional data via the Pochard Survey website? You’ll find out a lot more about the survey on this site and, if scroll down to the bottom of the survey’s webpage, the link you need to click on is ‘CLICK HERE to submit your data’. This takes you to a survey page which is very easy to fill in.

If you have any queries, please contact monitoring@wwt.org.uk

Diolch/Thanks.

Waterbirds in a Freezing Winter

Reporting on population trends of birds revealed through WeBS counts, the latest issue of Waterbirds in the UK is now available.  The report covers the freezing winter of 2010/11 and reaffirms how important the Severn Estuary is for wintering waterbirds in Wales.

Waterbirds in the UK 2010/11: The Wetland Bird SurveyCounts on the Severn Estuary were, for many species, higher than recent averages, with over 75000 wildfowl and waders utilising the estuary, presumably in response to the cold weather.  Although it was cold in western Britain, birds from even colder areas further east in Europe, are likely to have made use of west coast estuaries as cold weather refuges.

Along with Dunlin and Ringed Plover, the six other species to use the Severn Estuary in internationally important numbers (more than 1% of the total international population) are Mute Swan (400), Bewick’s Swan (250), Shelduck (4,230), Pintail (730), Shoveler (570), and Redshank (2,920).

By monitoring our wetlands our volunteers are helping to illustrate important population trends of our wintering waterbirds and how these birds respond to cold weather.

Holt, C.; Austin, G.; Calbrade, N.; Mellan, H.; Hearn, R.; Stroud, D.; Wotton, S. & Musgrove, A.  (2011) Waterbirds in the UK 2010/11: The Wetland Bird Survey. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford.
http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/webs/publications/wituk-201011

WeBS Report Published

The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) is the scheme which monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK. The principal aims of WeBS are to identify population sizes, determine trends in numbers and distribution and to identify important sites for waterbirds.

The latest annual report, for 2009-10 has now been published.

Though many of our most important water bodies in East Glamorgan are currently surveyed, BTO is keen to broaden the survey to include smaller sites, especially marshy areas that may hold species such as Snipe.    If you’d like to get involved, please contact:

Daniel Jenkins-Jones
WeBS Organiser for East Glamorgan
email: eastglamwebs@gmail.com

Holt, C.; Austin, G.; Calbrade, N.; Mellan, H.; Mitchell, C.; Stroud, D.; Wotton, S. & Musgrove, A. (2011) Waterbirds in the UK 2009/10: The Wetland Bird Survey. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford.
http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/webs/publications/wituk-200910

February WeBS Counts

Here are some Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) counts made in East Glamorgan over last weekend.

Ogmore Estuary

Canada Goose (4), Cormorant (4), Curlew (4), Gadwall (3), Goldeneye (3), Goosander (1), Green Sandpiper (1), Grey Heron (2), Little Egret (1), Little Grebe (9), Mallard (39), Mute Swan (23), Oystercatcher (18), Purple Sandpiper (14), Redshank (16), Shelduck (16), Teal (60), Turnstone (2), Black-headed Gull (330), Common Gull (6), Great Black-backed Gull (2), Herring Gull (120), Lesser Black-backed Gull (5).

Hensol Lake

Coot (46), Cormorant (3), Gadwall (7), Great Crested Grebe (3), Mallard (6), Mute Swan (3), Pochard (2), Tufted Duck (20).

Wilderness Pond, Porthcawl

Canada Goose (15), Coot (15), Cormorant (2), Mallard (44), Moorhen (21), Mute Swan (3), Domestic Greylag Goose (1), Muscovy Duck (2).

East Aberthaw Quarry Pool

Coot (7), Mallard (8), Pochard (4), Teal (13), Tufted Duck (7).

Clydach Vale Countryside Park

Coot (11), Goosander (1), Little Grebe (2), Mallard (40), Moorhen (4), Black-headed Gull (5), Lesser Black-backed Gull (1), Domestic Greylag Goose (8), Domestic Mallard (19), Muscovy Duck (2).

Lisvane Reservoir (Daniel Jenkins-Jones)

Coot (13), Cormorant (2), Great Crested Grebe (5), Little Grebe (2), Mallard (11), Pochard (15), Tufted Duck (39), Black-headed Gull (103), Herring Gull (2), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2).

Next WeBS Count


WeBS LogoJust a quick reminder to all the East Glamorgan WeBS Counters that the next Core Count date is next Sunday,  13 February.

If you’ve got no idea what WeBS is but would like to know more, please click here.