House Martin Count Survey 2015

I am currently looking for surveyors for the House Martin Survey in May to July 2015 for a new batch of randomly selected squares that I have just received. This survey has proven popular as the original allocation of squares were almost all allocated out before the BTO has fully publicised the survey and got the square request system up and running.

The survey involves up to three visits to a square to look for colonies of House Martins and to record nest occupancy and numbers of birds. Fuller information can be found at

Please request a square from the website (the new batch will be available in the next couple of days) or email me using the link on the right panel of the blog. Please consider taking on a couple where there are some close together and few buildings in the square.

Yorkshire Birdwatchers' Conference

I have had some good feedback from last Saturday's conference at Askham Bryan College, I hope everyone who attended it enjoyed it too.

The first talk was by Stephen Murphy on his Hen Harrier research and the use of technology to track and monitor the birds. A fascinating insight into what is involved and what can be learned. I hadn't been aware of the different dispersal strategies between the sexes, not to mention their food preferences.

Prof Sir John Lawton gave the keynote talk on 'Making more Space for Nature. A parable from Chernobyl.' Bigger, better and more joined up. Sir John told us about his visit to the Belarus exclusion zone and how this has 'rewilded' in the absence of man. Comparing this to other places, including Ennerdale in the Lakes, he showed us possibilities and limitations of what could be done for wildlife protection in the UK.

After lunch, Carl Barimore from the BTO's Nest Record Scheme ran through the history, how to do it and the benefits to monitoring. I am sure that his enthusiasm will have encouraged those in the audience to give it a go.

Gareth Jones, from North Yorks Police, gave us a flavour of some of the challenges faced as a Wildlife Crime Officer. A challenging job, indeed.

Andy Clements, Director of the BTO, talked about recent developments in the study of migration and the fortunes of our migrants. The atlas has shown declines in some of our summer visitors, following up insights and possibilities will require further studies. He also told us more on what has been found out from the Cuckoo tracking, including the importance of the coming of the rains in west Africa.

To wrap up the conference, Keith Clarkson from the RSPB shared his enthusiasm for the bird of Yorkshire and highlighted some of the changes to our avifauna, both negative and positive.

All in all a great day.

York Ornithological Club March Meeting - 3rd March

The next indoor meeting is a talk by Professor John Altringham entitled 'Wharfedale to WesternGhats: Bat Ecology and Conservation'.  

The talk is at 7.30pm at St Olave's Church Hall, Marygate Lane, Marygate York and the adjoining car park should have reopened. 

Further information at:

Yorkshire Birdwatchers' Conference March 14th

There are still tickets available for the conference at Askham Bryan College on 14th March. These are available from

In addition to the names in the previous post, Andy Clements will be speaking on Bird Migration.

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 @btoyork. 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.

Oops - corrected the account name - it is @btoyork