Survey updates - local coverage

House Martin survey

Forty three squares were surveyed this year in the region for the random square component of the survey, out of 45 that were allocated. This is great coverage by volunteer surveyors. There was a total of 62 colonies counted across the region, though many squares had none. Next year there will be a follow up survey which will focus on observations of individual nests to collect information about nesting activity.


So far, data have been returned from 37 BBS squares (out of 43) and 3 WBBS sites (of 4). There is still a possibility of hitting the 40 square target, which would be a record, as at least two other squares have been covered for BBS.

Thank you to all who took part in these surveys.

Woodcock & preliminary Peregrine results published

Visit the BTO's website to read about the decline by 29% since 2003 of Woodcock as revealed by the results of the recent survey -

Also published there are preliminary results from last year's Peregrine survey, showing a general increase, though with significant country and regional differences. This includes shedding more light on what's sadly happening in our uplands. Visit

Simple Goldfinch Survey this winter

What are Goldfinches feeding on in your garden?
The BTO has launched a simple survey today to try to find out.
While Garden BirdWatchers are telling us that Goldfinches are becoming increasingly common in gardens, we don't fully understand the reasons for this. How important is the food we put out or the plants we grow? Do they truly prefer nyger seed or is sunflower seed their choice treat? 
It only takes a couple of minutes for observations and data submission is online.

BBS early August update

Very many thanks to all surveyors who have taken part this year. 
There are 43 squares available in the York Region for the BBS. Of these, so far I have received complete data from 29 squares. I know that two did not get covered but, if most of the remaining 12 were surveyed, we'll still be well up on surpassing the previous record for coverage, which would be excellent.

If observers are still to enter data or return your forms, please try to do this by the end of August as initial processing of data will begin from then.

BBS data return by end of August

Could all BBS surveyors in the region who haven't yet entered their data for the 2015 season please try to finish that before the end of August?
Many thanks

Euro Bird Portal

The EuroBirdPortal (EBP) project and its demo viewer ( launched on 16 June 2015 in Brussels as part of Green Week 2015, the annual conference on European environment policy.The EBP project is a new initiative of the European Bird Census Council (EBCC) through which European online bird recording schemes will collaborate to research European-wide seasonal distributional changes, migratory patterns, and migration timing of  birds and to understand how these patterns are changing over time. EBP data for Britain and Ireland come from BirdTrack. View the EBP website and introductory video.

This is taken from a BTO press release.

Breeding season update

As we are half way through June and well into the season's surveys, here’s an update on what's happening with the BBS, WBBS and House Martin surveys in the region.

42 BBS squares and four WBBS sites have been allocated. Of these, data from the first visit have been returned through BBS-Online from 25 squares, with 16 having had their second visit recorded as well.
Second visits should be completed before the end of June and, ideally, data entered in the system by the end of August.

Of the 45 House Martin Survey squares in the region, 23 have had the first, recce visit, recorded in the system. These have found a total of 15 colonies. 
If you have done your recce visit, please can you enter the data on the system as it will help the BTO monitor progress?

The second visit (for counting the nests and birds) is due before 25th June, it is also an opportunity to find colonies missed earlier or newly established.

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: