Yorkshire Birdwatchers' Conference March 14th 2015

The Yorkshire Birdwatchers' Conference will be held at Askham Bryan College, York on Saturday 14th March. Tickets are £20 per person and include lunch and refreshments. There will be talks, discussion, stalls and displays.

Speakers include Professor Sir John Lawton (making space for nature), Stephen Murphy from Natural England (technology for conservation) , Gareth Jones (wildlife crime policing), Keith Clarkson from RSPB (breeding birds in Yorkshire), Carl Barimore from BTO (nest recording) and another BTO speaker.

Details of the programme and how to purchase tickets can now be found at the BTO's website:

Regional Network Meeting

A couple of weeks ago I attended the annual meeting for BTO regional reps in Thetford. Here are a few things for members and volunteers to look out for:

  • BBS - there are plans for a questionnaire for surveyors to explore such things as motivations, improvements, recording methods, communications, age profile.
  • House Martin Survey - this will be going ahead in May to July 2015. This will be an online survey.
  • Colonial Birds Recording Scheme - this is a new name for the Heronries Census, which has been running since 1928, to mark its launch as an online scheme. The name change recognises that a number of other species are now included in counts: Little Egret and Cormorant, for example.
  • There are further surveys being looked at but these will require funding before more details are available.

Now on Twitter

I was at the Regional Network Meeting in Thetford the other day and heard about how Twitter can help spread the word about the BTO at a local as well as national level. So, following the lead of some colleague RRs, I took the plunge and set up an account @yorkbto. So far, I have been looking who to follow but, in the first 24 hours, I have picked up more followers than this blog has done in 8 years!

I will continue with the blog as a complementary means of communication and I will cross reference to here for more details.

A couple of surveys to look out for in 2015

House Martin Survey 2015

There has never been a national House Martin survey before, previous population estimates have been derived using statistical methods from census data. In order to produce a population estimate as a baseline to measure future changes, there will be a survey in spring and summer 2015. There will be randomly selected squares to cover.

International Swan Census 17–18 January 2015

Using a similar approach to the Golden Plover Survey in the previous post, there will be an opportunity to contribute records of Whooper and Bewick's Swans through BirdTrack (www.birdtrack.net).

International Golden Plover Survey 11–12 October 2014

On 11-12 October 2014 (WeBS Count weekend) there will be a coordinated census of Eurasian Golden Plovers across Europe, repeating comparable surveys carried out in 2008 and 2003.  The majority of Golden Plovers are concentrated in northwest Europe in October making it the best time to assess the status of the population. As in 2008, the BTO will be collating all counts of Golden Plover within the framework of an International Wader Study Group project.

For the UK, Golden Plover numbers provided through standard WeBS Core Counts will represent the key source of data in combination with records provided through BirdTrack. Anyone can contribute by submitting counts of Golden Plover (and Lapwing) into BirdTrack (www.birdtrack.net) over that weekend.

2013 BBS report available

The BBS report for 2013 has been published and will be arrive with volunteers shortly. It can be seen online now at www.bto.org/bbs-report-13 which will open up the pdf. Previous reports can be accessed from www.bto.org/bbs-report.

A recent interesting BTO press release shows how data can shed light on changes in populations detected by the BBS. This is about declines in all three species of wagtails that breed in the UK: http://www.bto.org/news-events/press-releases/tale-three-wagtails-familiar-species-decline

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.