Winter Thrush Survey in the region

Over the two winters of 2012/13 and 2013/14, observers in the York Region were involved in the Winter Thrush survey to study numbers and feeding behaviour of thrushes. This covered our resident thrushes as well as the winter visiting Redwing and Fieldfare, in addition Starling and Waxwing were recorded.

The core square part of the survey required counts between Christmas and the early part of January and were randomly selected as part of the survey design. Otherwise methods were the same for these squares as for the squares selected by observers. Visits could be made between September and April, often people visited each month, occasionally more visits were done and sometimes not in all months.

In all, 22 core squares were covered and around 50 further squares selected by observers. That's a really great effort by all involved.

Yorkshire BTO Conference 2015

Advance news - a date of 14th March has been fixed for the next Yorkshire Conference for BTO Members. It will be held at Askham Bryan College near York so should be accessible for our regions' members. The agenda will include a number of speakers to be confirmed.

Bird Atlas Mapstore

This week a new resource on the BTO website came online. It is called Bird Atlas Mapstore and complements the recent Bird Atlas. Here you can interactively browse maps from all the atlases. 

Some of these are maps that couldn't fit into the books, including the 20-year change maps from the most recent atlas. With the ‘slider’ tool you can seamlessly view maps through time and see how bird distributions have changed.

Click on the following link to explore:

Peregrine Survey 2014

This spring and summer sees a survey of Peregrines as it is over a decade since the last one. The survey will have a site-based element, primarily covered by raptor groups, and a random square element as well as casual records through BirdTrack.

There will be about a dozen random 5x5km squares selected in the York Region. I am expecting that there will be a need to carry out a thorough search of these 3 times in the season.

If you are interested in taking part, please let me know.

Breeding Bird Survey 2014

For the last week or so, I have been checking who is continuing with their Breeding Bird Survey sites. Last year's total was 39 squares surveyed, which was a record year for the York Region - brilliant effort from everyone. So there's a challenge there to beat that record in 2014.

If you do the survey an haven't got back to me, please let me know whether you wish to carry on. If you haven't done it and would like to volunteer, please contact me. I do get some turnover of squares so there's a good chance to getting something. The squares are randomly selected, though, so I can't promise one on your doorstep.

The BBS-Online website will be updated in time for the new season and will include improvements in habitat and mammal recording as well as a different way of entering your data. It will also allow the recording of WBBS data. We have 4 routes covered in the region for the WBBS.

BBS this year will also introduce the recording of detection method. This is optional but please give it a go, let me know how it works for you. See the revised instructions in the pack.

Bird Atlas 2007-11 arrives!

My copy of the Bird Atlas arrived this afternoon. Initial impressions are very good. It looks great and is packed with information. I'm sure it will generate a lot of research over the coming years.

Winter Thrushes Survey - second winter

There will be a second winter of the Winter Thrushes Survey starting in September. The BTO has confirmed the following decisions:

  • start and end dates for WTS this winter will again be mid Sep to mid April and provisionally we will begin on 12 Sep, as last year
  • as before, volunteers can choose their own squares, or sign up for core squares assigned to them by WTS ROs
  • self-selected sites can be new, or the same as last winter
  • core squares will be the same ones as allocated last year, with more squares issued where the present allocation is almost taken up. To compare years, we are anxious to get as many visits to last year’s core sites as possible, as well as new information from core squares not covered last year (particularly in areas poorly covered last year). As before, core squares can be visited at any time during the winter (adding information on seasonality), but the main requirement will be to make a visit during the set midwinter period (which will be Dec 27-Jan 10, as last winter)
  • there will be minimal changes to survey procedures from last winter, as we want to know whether foraging patterns and foods taken change between years
  • we will be editing the application and instructions to improve clarity where needed
  • we do really need the polygons (showing the area covered) for the core sites, but this is optional for the self-selected sites
  • we plan to drop the counts of 'additional species' (but retain Waxwings and Starlings)

The web site is presently set up to receive data from last winter but will be re-launched in early Sept. By this time minor changes and clarifications will have been made.

Last winter's survey proved popular with volunteers, who made over 12,600 visits to more than 3,100 different squares and reported more than 810,000 birds!
Did you see the article in the recent BTO News where the York Region was one of a few picked out as having covered 20 or more core sites?