Bird Atlas maps

There have been some exciting changes to the summary maps that you can see on the Bird Atlas website.

Species richness maps - now with smoothing to counter some oddities from the coverage of the previous atlas -

Species missing - to show gaps -

Confirmation of breeding -

Regional maps - now 2 versions: low and high resolution depending on which way you view them - high resolution make use of Google Maps -

You can also see results from other regions by selecting from the drop down list two thirds the way down this page

Have a look and see what you think.

BTO date for your diary

Put the 10th April into your diary for a Yorkshire BTO Conference at Bishop Burton College near to Beverley. More details to follow but there's likely to be a full agenda of talks with a local interest and also some by BTO staff. I expect a talk on the Atlas and the BBS.

YOC date for your diary - The Sparrowhawk

Professor Ian Newton will be giving a talk on The Sparrowhawk at the York Ornithological Club meeting on January 5th 2010.

He is the authority on the species and has written the definitive monograph as well as being BTO Chairman.

The meeting starts at 7.30 pm at the Friends' Meeting House on Friargate, York.

There's a small contribution on the door to cover costs.

Can anyone help a neighbour out?

Our neighbouring region, Yorkshire (North-east), has not had as thorough a coverage of Timed Tetrad Visits. This region covers much of the North York Moors and so is sparsely populated. This means that Mike, the RR, doesn't have as many people to call on as I do.

If anyone fancies taking on tetrads in his area please request them through the Atlas website

The areas that look to need most help are those immediately north of the York Region: SE58, SE59, SE68 and SE69. It's a chance to visit quite a different habitat to those in the more lowland areas of our region.

Atlas update this winter

In the York Region, we have a good spread of coverage for the winter. However, some 10km squares are more of a priority for allocation of Timed Tetrad Visits to ensure an even effort across the region: SE56, SE57, SE65, SE66 and SE76. That's not to say there is a problem in these, just that other areas have more squares allocated.

The key aims are to:
* get these allocated tetrads visited twice for the winter,
* complete the winter visit for those only visited once previously,
* boost species lists with Roving Records, and
* make sure that there have been after dark visits to all 10km squares to listen for nocturnal and crepuscular species - although most areas already have records for Tawny, Barn and Little Owl.

Bird Atlas - areas requiring TTVs - update

After some volunteers taking on some more tetrads for TTVs this winter, some of the 10km squares that I flagged up before are now well covered.

The key areas now are SE73, SE56, SE57 and SE65 could do with a couple more to be allocated.

Roving Records focus areas are the same as the previous post.

After a wet start to the month, hopefully there'll be some opportunities for fieldwork this weekend.

Bird Atlas - escapes and exotics

When doing Atlas fieldwork, have you seen any escapes or exotic species?

These should be recorded as they may contribute to a picture showing the first signs of their establishing themselves in the wild. Think of the establishment of Rose-ringed Parakeet since the first atlas at the end of the 60s.

As a guide, count any birds apparently in the wild. I would exclude pinioned birds and those obviously part of collections or in captivity. For example, Dawn Balmer, the National Organiser, has noted that she has recorded Helmeted Guineafowl that were not in a cage.

Computer problems

I have had a problem with my computer in the last week and have, temporarily I hope, lost my email history. I was unable to deal with all of my recent emails before it crashed. I have remembered some emails, or at least who sent them, but I fear that there are a few I may miss. I have now managed to get email working on a different machine, so if you have sent something to me recently and I haven't replied, can you please resend the email?
Thanks, Rob

Winter Atlas - species targets

From the species point of view, many birds have been recorded in all 10km squares but some birds have not been recorded everywhere we might expect. I have listed the main gaps, although scarcer birds are needed in most places so I have not listed all these. Please hunt them out on Roving Records visits.

Wildfowl - pretty comprehensive in the Derwent Valley but look out for them everywhere. Notably, Greylags in SE56, SE67 and SE76; Canada Goose in SE73 and SE75; Teal in SE54.

Cormorant hasn't been recorded in SE67.
Buzzard not yet in SE66.
Coot not yet in SE56 or SE67.

Waders - some parts well covered, but look for them across the region.
Snipe needed in SE56 and SE67.
Woodcock needed in SE53, SE55 and SE56.
Herring Gull in SE57.

Owls - Short-eared and Long-eared in most places. Tawny Owl needed in SE53 and SE64. Little Owl in SE53.
Kingfisher in SE53, SE66, SE67 and SE76.
Green Woodpecker hasn't been recorded in SE54, SE56 or SE75.

Meadow Pipit needed in SE56 and SE67.
Grey Wagtail in SE56.
Blackcap & Chiffchaff have been recorded in 5 of the 10km squares only.

Marsh Tit needed in SE53, SE55 and SE73.
Willow Tit in SE55, SE56, SE67, SE73 and SE77.
Jay is missing from SE75.

Brambling from SE54 and SE77.
Siskin from SE73.
Linnet from SE56.
Redpoll from SE75.

Bird Atlas - Third Winter

The third winter season for the Atlas starts 1st November and ends 28th February 2010.

Having had a look at the numbers of records, tetrad coverage and species records, here are some of the priorities:

Roving Records

To boost numbers of species and records, please submit records from these 10km squares as a priority: SE53, SE56, SE64 and SE73. These also need attention as highlighted by the species richness indicators on the Atlas website: SE57, SE66, SE67 and SE75. Of course, records are welcome from anywhere but please consider visiting these areas.

Timed Tetrad Visits

We've done really well to achieve minimum coverage across the region already, and several tetrads are allocated for visits this (and the final) winter so there's more to come. My focus for this method is to even out the recording effort across the region as much as possible. So the following 10k squares are the priority order for new TTVs: SE77, SE75, SE53, SE76, SE67, SE56, SE66, SE64.

Please let me know if you want to take on a new tetrad or two. Remember that once a tetrad has been visited twice in a season, it is complete for that season. It is better to do the two in the same season if you can.

If you have only been able to visit a tetrad on one occasion in a previous winter, please try to complete it this time around with the second visit.

2009 Breeding Bird Survey - 26 and counting

Some while since my last post, I'm afraid. But a quick update on the BBS for this year. So far I have data for 26 squares. You may recall that last year we had a record (joint with 2007) of 31 squares, which is great as several of you are involved in the Atlas too. There are still a few people who I know have covered their square yet to submit data and also one or two who I am waiting to hear from, so there's still a chance of beating the record - that would be brilliant.

A note on the Atlas - I have been working out where to focus the efforts for the forthcoming winter and shall post shortly on this, once I have done a bit more analysis of likely species. Volunteers for more TTVs to even out the coverage and for Roving Records are most welcome.

Breeding Bird Survey 2008 - regional highlights

I thought that following extract from a BTO press release about the BBS from 16 July might be of interest to you:

"Yorkshire and the Humber is the only region in which Skylark (4%) has increased in numbers. Blackbird (57%), Carrion Crow (96%), Long-tailed Tit (64%), Moorhen (56%) and Reed Bunting (57%) have increased more than in other regions. Kestrel (-23%) and Magpie (-19%) have declined the most in this region, and it is the only one in which Whitethroat (-3%) has declined.

[Bird names in red and in amber denote the species is on the red or amber list respectively of Birds of Conservation Concern 3: 2009 ]

All the figures refer to the smoothed long-term trends covering the BBS period."

I received my copy of the report for 2008 in the post yesterday, it should be with you or on its way if you took part in the BBS last year.

Breeding Bird Survey

The Breeding Bird Survey season has now finished for 2009. Currently I have data from 16 squares submitted through the BBS-Online system. One or two of these are for one visit only.

The last two years have seen the York Region hit 30 squares covered, so we are half way there. Potentially we could achieve 35 squares, although in practice there are usually a handful that don't get covered for one reason or another.

The system is down for maintenance at the time of writing but will be back tomorrow. Please submit your data as soon as you can.

Garden BirdWatch Conference in Harrogate

The BTO's Garden BirdWatch will be coming to Harrogate on Saturday 27th June to launch the Ambassador scheme for the [Yorkshire] region and introduce the new volunteer representatives to local participants.

The launch will consist of a half day conference from 9.30am to 12.30pm at the St Roberts Conference Centre and will involve talks from Amy Lewis (BTO Garden BirdWatch Development Officer), the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and a speaker from a local badger group.

The day is free to attend and I can pass on details in the form of a pdf file if you drop me an email.

York Region's Newsletter

You should have received a Yorkshire (York) Region newsletter enclosed with the latest BTO News. If you haven't, please let me know. I can email you one in pdf format.

Breeding Bird Survey 2009 volunteers required

I am looking for volunteers to take on a BBS square. I have at least three squares available, possibly four.

Please drop me a line to let me know. The link to email me is on the right of this page.

Breeding Bird Survey 2009

I have recently received the forms for this year's BBS and have today sent out an email to regulars surveyors for confirmation that they will be continuing with their square. If you haven't received the email, it's because I already have you down as confirmed. This year's pack is cut down somewhat from previous years for those who use the BBS on-line for submitting their results.

I am likely to have a few squares available for new volunteers or for an exisiting observer to take on a new square. Please let me know if you wish to take one on. Let's see if we can continue the great efforts over the last few years and keep a high coverage rate. 2008 equalled 2007's record of 31 BBS squares being surveyed.

BBS for Butterflies - There will be a flyer in the pack requesting help with the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey. This will be based on the BBS and needs volunteers for visits in July and August. Let me know or follow this instructions on the leaflet if you want to take part.

Bird Atlas validation - YOC list

In addition to the records on the YNU list (see separate posting) and national rarities, these species are locally scarce and are likely (in bold expected) to need a description for the York Ornithological Club (list as YOC version at 2006):

White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Brent Goose – all races
Egyptian Goose
Green-winged Teal
Red-crested Pochard
Ring-necked Duck
(Greater) Scaup
(Common) Eider
Long-tailed Duck
Common Scoter
Velvet Scoter

Red-breasted Merganser
Black Grouse
Golden Pheasant
Red-throated Diver
Black-throated Diver

Great Northern Diver
Red-necked Grebe
Slavonian Grebe

Black-necked Grebe
Cory’s Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Manx Shearwater
Balearic Shearwater
European Storm-petrel
Leach’s Storm-petrel

(Eurasian) Bittern
White Stork
Red Kite
Marsh Harrier
Hen Harrier
Spotted Crake
Common Crane
Stone Curlew

Little Ringed Plover
Little Stint
Temminck’s Stint
Pectoral Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Jack Snipe
Black-tailed Godwit
Bar-tailed Godwit
Spotted Redshank
Pomarine Skua
Arctic Skua
Long-tailed Skua
Great Skua
Grey Phalarope

Mediterranean Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull (^ of Baltic race fuscus)
Glaucous Gull
Iceland Gull (^ including Kumlien’s Gull)
Yellow-legged Gull
Little Gull
Sabine’s Gull
Little Tern

Black Tern
Sandwich Tern
Arctic Tern
Roseate Tern
Common Guillemot
Black Guillemot
Little Auk

Ring-necked Parakeet
Long-eared Owl
(European) Bee-eater

Wood Lark
Shore Lark
Richard’s Pipit
Water Pipit
Rock Pipit
Yellow Wagtail (scarce races)
Black-bellied Dipper
Black Redstart
Ring Ouzel
Cetti’s Warbler
Icterine Warbler
Barred Warbler
Pallas’s Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Red-breasted Flycatcher

Bearded Tit
Golden Oriole
Red-backed Shrike

Great Grey Shrike
(European) Serin
Mealy (Common) Redpoll

(Common) Crossbill
Scottish Crossbill
Common Rosefinch

Lapland Bunting
Snow Bunting
Ortolan Bunting

Apologies for the long list but I thought it may be a useful reference.

Atlas Validation - YNU list

Following from the posting about the validation of records for the Bird Atlas, these species need descriptions for acceptance by the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union (list as YOC version at 2006):

Bean Goose – both races
Black Brant
Ruddy Shellduck
American Wigeon
Ferruginous Duck
Surf Scoter
Wilson’s Storm-petrel
(Black-crowned) Night Heron
Great White Egret
Purple Heron
(European) Honey Buzzard
Black Kite
White-tailed Eagle
Montagu’s Harrier
Rough-legged Buzzard
Golden Eagle
Red-footed Falcon
Kentish Plover
American Golden Plover
White-rumped Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope (in flight)
Caspian Gull
Ring-billed Gull
White-winged Black Tern
Alpine Swift
(Greater) Short-toed Lark
Red-rumped Swallow
Tawny Pipit
Red-throated Pipit
Aquatic Warbler
Marsh Warbler
Melodious Warbler
Dartford Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Greenish Warbler
Radde’s Warbler
Dusky Warbler
Woodchat Shrike
(Red-billed) Chough
Arctic Redpoll
Cirl Bunting
Rustic Bunting
Little Bunting

Bird Atlas validation overview

You may have seen that I have started validating some of York Region's Atlas records with the help of YNU and local recorders Phil Bone, Peter Watson and Andy Booth.

So what is validation all about?
To ensure that our records are of greater value to science and conservation and that the BTO analyses are based on solid data, the records are run through a quality checking process.

What is checked?
ID - Often this could be the result of a typo rather than mis-identification; e.g. wrong species selected from the drop-down list.
ID can also be used for scarce or rare birds to get confirmation of the identification. The BTO guidelines for these are that the record must be acceptable to the relevant local or national rarity body (e.g. YNU, BBRC). So birds on the lists requiring descriptions in the latest YOC Report will be followed up with this code.
Similarly for species normally not seen in that season; e.g. winter migrants in summer.

GR - Grid reference errors. These have proved so far to be the commonest reason for querying. For example, an unknown name could indicate transposing of numbers or mis-selection of the letters in the OS reference from a drop-down list; it could also indicate a mis-reading of the map.

No. - Mainly applies to TTVs. To check that unusual counts are valid, there may be cases where an extra number has been keyed; e.g. 551 House Sparrows where 51 is more likely.

BS - Where breeding evidence is unlikely; e.g. FL for gulls where there are no known colonies, or confirmed breeding in winter.

What happens if one of my records is queried?
When you log on to the Atlas website, you will see a message on your home page. You can click on the link to this and then take action.

Perhaps it was a mistake that you can correct online. Or else you wish to discuss the record or confirm that it is correct as recorded, in which case you can send an email to the validator using the link.

Please take any query in a positive way, the important thing is to ensure confidence in the data of the final product. Please note that your records can only be changed by yourself, the observer, not the validator.