Bird Atlas 2007-11 arrives!

My copy of the Bird Atlas arrived this afternoon. Initial impressions are very good. It looks great and is packed with information. I'm sure it will generate a lot of research over the coming years.

Winter Thrushes Survey - second winter

There will be a second winter of the Winter Thrushes Survey starting in September. The BTO has confirmed the following decisions:

  • start and end dates for WTS this winter will again be mid Sep to mid April and provisionally we will begin on 12 Sep, as last year
  • as before, volunteers can choose their own squares, or sign up for core squares assigned to them by WTS ROs
  • self-selected sites can be new, or the same as last winter
  • core squares will be the same ones as allocated last year, with more squares issued where the present allocation is almost taken up. To compare years, we are anxious to get as many visits to last year’s core sites as possible, as well as new information from core squares not covered last year (particularly in areas poorly covered last year). As before, core squares can be visited at any time during the winter (adding information on seasonality), but the main requirement will be to make a visit during the set midwinter period (which will be Dec 27-Jan 10, as last winter)
  • there will be minimal changes to survey procedures from last winter, as we want to know whether foraging patterns and foods taken change between years
  • we will be editing the application and instructions to improve clarity where needed
  • we do really need the polygons (showing the area covered) for the core sites, but this is optional for the self-selected sites
  • we plan to drop the counts of 'additional species' (but retain Waxwings and Starlings)

The web site is presently set up to receive data from last winter but will be re-launched in early Sept. By this time minor changes and clarifications will have been made.

Last winter's survey proved popular with volunteers, who made over 12,600 visits to more than 3,100 different squares and reported more than 810,000 birds!
Did you see the article in the recent BTO News where the York Region was one of a few picked out as having covered 20 or more core sites?

Willow Tit survey

Jono Leadley is organising a local survey of Willow Tit distribution and numbers in the York Region/YOC recording area this year. It is hoped that this will provide us with a baseline view of this species that can be used for comparison in the future.

Anyone can help out with this survey, so long as they are able to identify it. See the useful video at

Please email me (using the link on the right) if you would like further details, instructions and recording spreadsheet.

Bird Atlas pre-publication offer

The Bird Atlas is due to be published later in the year and you can take advantage of the pre-publication offer and save 35% by ordering before 31/07/13 at

Look out for flyers advertising the same in the next BTO News, which will be the volunteering issue and will arrive shortly.

BirdTrack Homepage

Have you been to BirdTrack this week?

If you have, you will notice a new, redesigned homepage. Nick Moran, who runs Birdtrack at the BTO, says: "We believe that by increasing the relevance of BirdTrack to birders on a day-to-day basis we can greatly increase the quantity of high-quality data being collected."

The new BirdTrack Home page makes the records submitted the focus of the online application. An interactive map and graph tool are at the centre of the page, encouraging visitors to see what has been added and go on to submit their own records. A competitive/celebratory element has been introduced too, initially displaying the top 5 submitters of complete lists this month and the top 5 year-listers. Logged-in users will be able to see their own names/stats in these tables. There is also a real-time feed showing the total number of records submitted this month, the latest complete list submitted, and the most recent news stories.

Woodcock Survey 2013

The Woodcock Survey 2013 will be run this summer to take stock of population changes since the last one, 10 years ago.

The survey is based on point counts of roding males at dusk in selected core sites and there is also a possibility of being able to cover suitable additional sites. In the York Region, I have a few high priority sites to get covered.

The survey will be run from the website in a similar way to the Winter Thrush Survey and details of methods, with survey forms and guides, can be seen at You can also register your interest on the site, which will house the site allocation and data submission system in a few weeks' time.

Contact me to volunteer or find out more.