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.