Bird Atlas - Square Summary feature

There's a new feature of note on the Bird Atlas website to help observers target species not yet recorded. This is the Any Square Summary list - it appears under My Square Summary. You can use it to see summary species lists with breeding status for any tetrad or hectad (10km square). But, I suspect it is server resource hungry so you are limited to 10 queries a day to avoid overloading the system.

Happy Christmas and good Atlasing

Bird Atlas Validation

I am pleased to say that the validation module of the Bird Atlas website is now live. This will allow me and a couple of other people (in York's case, local recorders) to validate your records. This is to ensure confidence in the Bird Atlas data.

Records can be queried for a number of reasons: e.g. the identification, the grid reference, the breeding code or unusual numbers. Sometimes this may be the result of a typo. The species may be unusal for the area or time of year - the Atlas guidance is to exlude records not accepted by local records committees (or BBRC, if relevant), but note that records will not be deleted.

If there is a query on the record, you will see a message on your home page once you have logged on. I have already had one of mine queried, from a different region.

Enjoy your Atlasing - there's still time for first winter visits in new tetrads.

Happy Christmas

Bird Atlas - Winter 2

The second winter starts tomorrow. Let's build on the great start to the Atlas in the York Region and get minimum coverage for TTVs in these squares: SE53, SE57, SE64, SE73, SE75, SE76 and SE77. You can see the available tetrads on the Atlas website.

I also need volunteers to do Roving Recording in all areas. The species lists will be available online soon once there has been an upgrade. This includes nocturnal visits to listen for owls etc. Please let me know if you have done a nocturnal visit as I can only see if there's been one without hearing or seeing anything.

Have a look at for current regional results. Note the % Species Richness indicator.

The main batch of paper TTV results from the Breeding season have been input and are in the process of being checked. So they should appear on the database early next week.

Review & validation functionality will be added soon as well. New servers are having to be installed to allow this to run efficiently. The website will be down for 2 or 3 days to allow the upgrade - news of this when I have it.

Enjoy your Atlasing.

Bird Atlas - the second winter

The first Breeding Season has now ended and, like the first winter, volunteers put in a great effort to cover a large number of tetrads in the region. Many thanks for your hard work. Let's keep the momentum going!

Regional results from online returns show breeding season figures of 96 tetrads covered for the Timed Tetrad Visits; 79 of these twice. Last winter in the York Region we made timed visits to 106 tetrads, 101 of which had two visits. If you have results still to enter, please can you do so as soon as is possible for either season.

We are now less than a month away from the start of the second winter for the Bird Atlas.

If you did two vists to your tetrad(s) last winter, very many thanks, this is now complete. Perhaps you could take on a different tetrad this winter?
If yours is one of the 5 with only one visit, please try to get the second one done this winter.

The following 10km squares especially need more Timed Tetrad Visits to be done this winter take them to the minimum coverage:

SE53, SE57
SE64, SE67
SE73, SE75, SE76, SE77

Alternatively, why not make Roving Record visits to boost the species lists? The following squares have a list of less than 80 species from the first winter:

SE53, SE55, SE56, SE57
SE66, SE67
SE73, SE75, SE76

But records from anywhere within the region are most welcome.

In addition, each 10km square needs to be visited, using the Roving Record method, after dark to pick up nocturnal species. Can you let me know if you do one of these?

Validation functionality will be added to the Atlas website soon. This will allow me to see which species are missing from our results and so these can be targeted in the future.

Please request TTVs via the website or drop me an email.

Enjoy your Atlasing.

Bird Atlas - Breeding Season update

The York Region's first breeding season for the Atlas was as successful as the winter season. Currently online metrics show 96 tetrads covered, 79 of which have had two visits recorded. Some tetrads have had data returned on paper forms so the real total should pass the hundred mark.

I am sure that there are data left to be entered, so please input your results as soon as you can. The BTO are using them for preliminary analyses already.

I anticipate that data validation functionality will be implemented on the system before the next season starts so I should be able to let you know some of the highlights then. Star bird that I am aware of so far is a Golden Oriole record on Yearsley Common. But of course the Atlas is about the common as well as the unusual.

I hope to post soon on the plans for the second winter season that starts in November.

Breeding Bird Survey 2008

2008 has been another excellent year for numbers of squares covered in the region. I now have results from 30 squares and we could top the record of 31 set last year if some of the outstanding squares come in. 79 species were recorded this year and nearly 5,600 individuals counted. Highlights include a Little Grebe, 954 Woodpigeons, 5 Yellow and 5 Grey Wagtails, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 5 Nuthatches and 3 Siskins.

The WBBS is a similar survey where transects run alongside rivers or canals. I have results for 2 of the 4 sites in the region with one other to come, one site unfortunately wasn't covered this year.

And this has been done at the same time as work on the Atlas - well done to everyone involved.

Bird Atlas - Winter paper TTV data loaded online

Data from winter TTV returns that were submitted on the paper forms have now been loaded online. The site now shows that 106 TTVs were covered (101 of them by two visits). The Roving Record paper form data will be loaded shortly.

The Breeding Season is progressing well, with 87 tetrads covered by TTV (22 so far have had second visits).

The validation functionality of the site is currently being developed. Once done, I'll be able to see and check the results, with able support from a local recorder or two. I'll also be thinking about the strategy for coverage in the second winter; i.e. where to focus effort.

Enjoy your Atlasing over the next few weeks.

Bird Atlas Breeding Season TTVs

Online metrics show that so far 51 TTVs have been covered for the first Breeding Season visits in the York Region. If you have done your first visit, many thanks. If not yet, then there's a great opportunity to do so with the Bank Holiday weekend coming up.

Remember that first visits should be done by the end of May. Second visits to tetrads can start from June 1st.

In winter, over 100 tetrads were covered. It would be great to match this in the first Breeding Season.

Don't forget that you can enter data from your winter visits still if you haven't yet.

I hope that you enjoy the fieldwork.

And many apologies for the emails making your email address visible to others - my oversight - I forgot to bcc this time.

Bird Atlas - breeding season starts

It may not seem it with this cold snap, but the Breeding Season has arrived for the Bird Atlas.

Online returns for the first winter season have been made for 97 tetrads, 90 of which have had both visits recorded. I have had paper returns for an additional 7 tetrads so far. This is a great start to the Atlas project in the region. Hopefully the breeding season will be equally successful.

Look out for breeding evidence this season. The codes can be found on several of the instructions sheets and the handy card for use in the field.

For TTVs, please note the instructions about breeding codes and colonies on the instructions sheet - this can be seen at

To reduce costs, I have only sent paper forms to observers who returned the data on paper as it is preferable to use the online system. However, paper forms for the breeding season TTVs are available on request.

Breeding Bird Survey

It's that time of the year when we start to think of the forthcoming Breeding Season. This year, of course, there is the Bird Atlas fieldwork on which to concentrate when the recording opens again in April. However, don't forget the BBS.

The BBS will continue as usual during the Atlas period. I have the forms now and am checking with my regular surveyors whether they can continue or not. I do have a short waiting list but will have some spaces this year if you wish to take part.

Please note that all your BBS records will automatically be passed to the Bird Atlas 2007-11 in the form of Roving Records. However, if you confirm breeding for a locally scarce species whilst carrying out the survey it would be worth reporting the record online at or on a Roving Record form.

Atlas website

You may have noticed that the Atlas website was slow, especially since Christmas. However, there has been an upgrade to the hardware - this took place on 23rd January - and there have also been some coding and database changes to improve performance. I hope you will notice the difference now.

Like the BTO, I have had technology problems, hence I have only just picked this message up and seen the improvement myself.

With the poor weather at weekends during January, only about a quarter of tetrads have had a second visit. Hopefully February will see most of the tetrads being done this winter finished off. It is desirable that both of the visits should for should be done in the same season so please make every effort to get that second visit done this month. Many thanks.

Happy New Year - belatedly!

Happy New Year to all readers.

Bird Atlas
A great effort so far in the Region; almost 90 tetrads have been visited and recorded online. I expect the actual number will be higher as several surveyors will be returning data on paper and there may be some who intend to submit online but haven't entered their results yet.

Now we're in 2008, it's time to think about the second visits to these tetrads to complete the winter counts. I know some have already been done.

Please keep the Roving Records coming in too.

The Breeding Bird Survey will continue as normal during the Atlas period. Data from this will also be used to feed the Atlas.

I expect to be sorting out volunteers and paperwork for this survey during February. Let's try to beat last year's record coverage.

Breeding Plover Survey
Forms have now all been returned to the BTO for analysis from last year's survey. 20 sites were visited and 5 Little Ringed Plover pairs were found.