Lapwings in Plots

Continuing the recent theme of plovers, the BTO have an opportunity to monitor farms that contain Lapwing plots as a high level agri-environment option. This survey is being run from BTO headquarters. The data gathered will be vital in informing decisions about modifying options within Environmental Stewardship, the government's flagship agri-environment scheme.

If you are a BBS observer and the BTO have your email address then you will have been contacted last week to ask whether you would like to volunteer for this. If you do, please reply to the email by 5th March. The number of plots to be covered will depend on the number of volunteers.

If you volunteer, the BTO will look for a plot near to your BBS square so it can be done following on from your BBS visit. In all cases the landowner will have been contacted in advance by a member of BTO staff and will have agreed to the volunteer survey. The survey involves a 20 minute watch followed by a transect walk to flush birds and record evidence of breeding.

National Nest Box Week

National Nest Box Week this year runs from 14th to 21st February - you can see information about this at . This year, the BBC have been involved and local radio have held events across the country to encourage people to put up nestboxes and register them for Nest Box Challenge. This is a survey for people with access to a nest box to collect information about breeding birds in gardens and green spaces across the UK.
I went along to BBC Radio York's event at the York Designer Outlet today where the BBC were giving away nest box kits. There was an overwhelming response to this and all 115 nest boxes were distributed in the first hour. It was a useful way for me to raise the profile of the BTO locally and to hand out leaflets for the Garden BirdWatch Survey. I hope that the GBW will benefit from this interest.

Plover surveys

This weekend sees the last survey dates for the Winter Plover survey. There are 18 tetrads being covered to count Golden Plover and Lapwing in the region. Gull species are additionally counted. WeBS counts in the Lower Derwent Valley also contributed to this survey and, judging by the size of the flocks that have been seen recently, I am sure this will have been significant.

It is not too late to add your casual sightings of the target species - just visit the BTO website at

Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers will be surveyed in the breeding season - I have just received the forms so watch out for a post shortly.

Lower Derwent NNR

On Friday evening I attended the annual Lower Derwent Valley NNR fieldworkers meeting in Skipwith organised by Natural England. It was a great opportunity to talk with some of the volunteers who are doing work on our local National Nature Reserve and to hear about some of their activities such as the whimbrel project. I was also able to let them know about the surveys that will be happening in the region this year. The new atlas work was especially of interest and tetrads for the Breeding Plover Survey this spring are concentrated around the valley so their help on this survey will be invaluable.


Following on from a handful of other regions, here's the first entry in the blog for the York BTO Region. I am trying this out as a communication medium to let both members and non-members know what's going on.

This year sees the start of the work on the new Atlas so I hope to keep surveyors in touch with the latest news in the region. I don't want to disenfranchise members without internet access though, so this won't replace my occasional newsletters.

So what is going on?

I have just received the recording forms and instructions for this year's Breeding Bird Survey. Over the next few days, I will be sending these out to my regulars and also filling in the gaps with those on the waiting list. This year there is a push for richer habitat data so there's some extra recording there for existing observers. Also they'll be asked to record the exact routes of transects on a print of the O.S. map of their square.

Heronry census cards have gone out to regular observers and there's the usual appeal for any records of new heronries within the region.

I have also received a list of sites for the Breeding Plover survey ahead of the forms and instructions.

Hopefully I'll get the hang of this and add pictures and change the look to make it more like a BTO blog.