Worcestershire Record No. 17 November 2004 pp. 8-10


Harry Green, BTO Regional Representative for Worcestershire

01386 710377 zen130501@zen.co.uk

As mentioned in the last Worcestershire Record the BTO “County” is defined by a group of 10km squares which do not follow the administrative or vice county boundaries. They are basically the number of squares that a Regional Representative is able to administer for BTO surveys. Therefore there are parts of Worcestershire which I do not cover. But I do cover parts of Gloucestershire (mainly Tewkesbury and south of Bredon Hill) and Herefordshire (Malvern Hills). For historical reasons SP05 and SP06 have been covered by the Warwickshire Regional Rep. but arrangements have now been made for these two squares to be included in BTO Worcestershire from January 2005. SP05 is about half and half Worcestershire and Warwickshire and includes Alcester and Ragley Hall. SP06 is mainly Redditch and about three quarters of the square is in modern Worcestershire (about half in VC37).

BTO Worcestershire therefore comprises the following 10 km squares SO66, SO74. SO75, SO76, SO77, SO83, SO84, SO85, SO86, SO87, SO93, SO94, SO95, SO96, SO97, SP04, SP05, SP06


The annual counts of known heronries are organised by Shaun Micklewright. I am not sure whether he will be able to cope now we have information on “new” heronries at Bittell Reservoirs, Redditch Arrow Valley Lake and Hewell Grange. We now also have the Ragley Hall heronries in SP05! If anyone would like to help with counts at heronries in 2005 please contact me..


As I mentioned in the last Worcestershire Record, BTO Worcestershire is well covered by this important survey, now in its twelfth year. In 2004 there were 56 randomly selected 1x1 km squares in the county. Surveys were completed in 50 squares and the results from 24 of these were submitted on-line by the surveyors, a facility available for the first time in 2004. This is an excellent result: By area Worcestershire is the best-covered county in the West Midlands and is providing very useful information towards calculating changes in bird populations in our area.

With the addition of SP05 and SP06, together with some new randomly selected squares in those areas, there are now 64 squares to be covered in 2005. Many observers will be continuing next year but at the time of writing I think I have to find surveyors for the following 1x1 km squares:

SO7267, SO8778, SO9237, SO9476. SP0466, SP0166, SP0750, SP0368, SP0461, SP0664, SP0868

I should be very pleased to hear from anyone wishing to undertake a survey. It is based on two transects in the square where birds are recorded twice a year (early and later breeding season) together with habitat information. Only about five hours field work to provide data for the UK’s premier breeding bird monitoring system!

The trends in populations derived from this work can be seen at the BTO website www.bto.org.uk.


The BTO has organised surveys of winter gull roosts since 1953, the last in January 1993. The 2003-2006 survey aims to produce the first estimate of the total UK population of wintering gulls, including coastal gulls. The survey consists of several parts. One is to count key site roosts which have been counted in the past and the other is to survey a series of randomly selected tetrads 2x2 km squares inland to discover if any gull roosts have been missed and to help give validity to the whole survey. There are also coastal counts which do not affect Worcestershire.

The one key site in Worcestershire is Westwood Great Pool near Droitwich and Gavin & Francis Peplow completed counts there last winter.

URGENT! The randomly selected tetrads are also to be surveyed in January 2005. Full instructions are given on the recording forms. If anyone could survey one of the following please contact me:

SO76Z Dunley, Oakhampton
SO74T North Malvern
SO83V South of Tewkesbury
SO74G near Colwall
SO86T Doverdale

Likelihood of gulls in these tetrads is small but a visit will get you out into countryside you may not have visited before! Also they are an important part of the survey.

NEW SURVEY 2005 and 2006.



Although the field work for this survey will not start until next spring (2005), there is a need to recruit volunteer surveyors soon, in order for their survey maps to be produced by early spring. The following describes the survey in more detail - but there are several points of interest to potential volunteers:

i) volunteers choose their own survey sites.

ii) the habitat recording is very simple, and we are using innovative diagrams to help with this.

iii) CDs will be provided for everyone taking part with songs and calls of the target species.

The survey will be running over the next two breeding seasons - late March to mid June - and aims to gather information about habitat use and variations in densities of a list of specialist woodland species throughout their ranges.

This project will provide information of great value in planning future conservation work for woodland specialists, many of which are currently declining in Britain. It will also provide an opportunity for observers to learn more about woodland birds and their habitats. Some of the species covered by the survey are very scarce, and others do not occur throughout the whole of the UK, but we are also recording some of the more common woodland specialists. All types of woodland are appropriate for the survey including broadleaved, coniferous and mixed woods, and recently planted and mature woods.

Volunteers will need to be able to recognise the target species by sight and sound, although a CD with the songs and calls of all the species will be provided to everyone taking part. This survey covers the whole of the UK and BTO will be providing a target number of woodland pairs for your area. This will be based on both the amount of woodland present in the area and the number of potential volunteers.

Methods: The most important part of this survey is recording birds along a transect route through woodland, known as a Woodland Walk. The woods will be chosen by observers - this is not a survey of randomly selected woods. Ideally we would like observers to undertake a Woodland Walk in a pair of woods of similar type (i.e. both broadleaved or coniferous with a similar range of growth stages). One of which is known to be `good', containing good numbers of commoner woodland specialists and ideally at least one of eight particularly scarce species:

Lesser Redpoll
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Tree Pipit
Willow Tit
Wood Warbler

The other wood may either be believed to be `poor' (containing few woodland specialists), or will be a complete `unknown'. We will provide map outlines for the observers, who will be required to mark on their transects, and to record basic habitat descriptions (mainly on woodland structure - not tree species composition), with the help of diagrammatic illustrations.

The timing for getting forms and maps out is critical:. Volunteers will need to choose woods (6-fig OS grid references needed) as early as possible, ideally by the end of January in order for BTO to produce the maps and get them out by end of February 2005.

BTO will also be running a parallel programme of casual recording of the eight target species, from any habitat, during the breeding season. This will be done through BirdTrack. This part of the survey will be advertised in birdwatching magazines etc and we are hoping to pick up records of the target species in all habitats, including those away from woodland (e.g. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in parks and Lesser Redpoll in scrub).


Three tetrads were surveyed in 2004. No breeding nightjars recorded, there or anywhere else in the county as far as I know!



Timing of Survey: 1 November to 31 March

Contact: Greg Conway (greg.conway@bto.org)

The survey will run for a minimum of two winters 2004/O5 and 2005/06.

NOTE: The survey will be run as a BTO Aided Inquiry (i.e. one the BTO supports through promotion, etc. but doesn't run directly through its volunteer network).

There have been two previous national BTO surveys of wintering warblers but these have only focused on Blackcap. The first was undertaken by Stafford (1956), which consisted of a review of published wintering records 1945-1954 and the second was by Leach (1981) which involved a national request for all records during the winter of 1978/79. Subsequently, the BTO Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland has provided a general picture of all wintering warbler species.

Given the increase in both numbers of species and individuals now wintering in the UK, and issues associated with global warming, this survey represents an ideal opportunity to set a baseline against which future changes in wintering warbler populations may be measured.

The main aim of the survey is to collect information on the size and distribution of all wintering warbler populations. Additional information on sex, habitat, food items and winter singing is also sought.

Due to the very localised concentrations of some species across habitats, particularly the insectivores, a sample survey would not be suitable. Therefore, observers will be requested to record at sites they routinely visit as well as targeting suitable habitats, such as sewage works, wetlands, coastal sites, etc.

Main approaches for gathering field data:

1) Casual records.

2) Regular site based counts.

Observers will be encouraged to submit counts throughout the survey period from sites they visit regularly during the course of their birdwatching activities. Other sites to be targeted include: gardens, sewage works, lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal areas, etc.

3 ) Concerted mid-winter count.

Recording effort over the Christmas and New Year period will also be encouraged, which will allow a near co-ordinated national count to be undertaken.

Recording instructions and a standardised recording form are available upon request and from the BTO website. Records can be submitted via BirdTrack (www.bto.org/birdtrack/), e-mail (greg.conway@bto.org) or post.

Skill level: ability to identify common wintering species (Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Firecrest).

RRs are not required to actively seek volunteers for this survey but any assistance with finding surveyors would be very much appreciated.

If you would like to help with this survey please obtain forms from Greg Conway, BTO, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk, IP24 2PU tel: 01842 750050or from the BTO web site.


This project will combine work on both breeding birds and wintering birds. Field work will start winter 2007-08 with the first of four spring surveys in 2008. The methodology for the breeding season (Spring) field work will be similar to the last Atlas 1988-91. That for the winter work is not yet finalised. Pilot field work is in hand! Get ready for kick-off!!

What is BirdTrack?

BirdTrack is an online bird recording scheme developed through an exciting partnership between BTO, RSPB and BirdWatch Ireland. It is a year-round recording scheme that will use bird-watching lists and other records to support species and site conservation at local, national and international scales. Results produced by BirdTrack will include mapping the migration and movements of birds and monitoring of scarce birds in Britain and Ireland. BirdTrack follows on from the successful Migration Watch project that looked at spring migration in 2002-2004. We know very little about the timing of arrival and departure of winter visitors and this is just one area in which BirdTrack will provide useful information. There are also many scarce birds of which we would like to know much more about their populations.

The development of BirdTrack is an on-going process and new features will be added to the website over the next two years. We intend to provide a comprehensive bird recording scheme that birdwatchers can use to store all of their bird-watching records. We will be working closely with county bird recorders to ensure that records are also available for use at a local level. With the permission of the observer, records will automatically be forwarded to the relevant county recorder together with full contact details of the observer. Over the next few months, together with county bird recorders and data managers, we will be looking at the best way of passing on records to bird clubs so that they can integrated into the various club recording systems.

We need lists!

The success of BirdTrack relies on collecting birdwatching lists. We need to gather a large number of lists at all times of the year from throughout Britain and Ireland. We prefer complete lists of birds (all species seen and heard) because the proportion of lists with a given species provides a good measure of frequency of occurrence that can be used to assess arrival and departure patterns, distributions and changes in status. Incomplete lists and casual records can also be entered because they too build our understanding of populations and so provide a comprehensive record of what you have seen.

Look at the results

The local and national results are available on the website for everyone to look at - you don't have to be a BirdTrack recorder. There are animated maps showing the arrival and departure of migrants and the seasonal movements of birds. For scarce species, such as Hawfinch, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Woodcock and Water Rail we will be building up a picture of their distribution throughout the year. You can also view your own records through specially designed features.

How can Bird Clubs help?

Bird clubs can help promote BirdTrack by mentioning it in club newsletters, bulletins and at meetings. If your club has a website then putting n link to BirdTrack would be an excellent way of promoting the project. In return, if you are a member of the Bird Club Partnership we will put a link to your club website from the BTO website. Electronic versions of the BTO logo, BirdTrack feet, BirdTrack information sheet are available from Down Balmer at BTO (e-maiI: birdtrack@bto org).

How to take part

Visit the BirdTrack website (www.bto.org/birdtrack/) to register as a recorder (it's free!). If you took part in Migration Watch please use the same user name and password and you will be able to access all of your Migration Watch records. If you are new to the website, there are a few simple steps to get set up as n recorder. You can then start to enter your bird records. 


This scheme has been running since 1995 and is revealing many interesting fact about garden birds. Over 17,000 people nationwide now send in regular counts of birds seen in their garden. Analysis of this information clearly show cycles of garden use with each year and also long term trends in numbers. Subsidiary surveys of House Sparrows and birds nesting in gardens through the Garden BirdWatch scheme have also provided information unavailable in any other way. For example, larger numbers of birds nest in gardens than previously thought.

Ups and downs

By running a project in a consistent manner over many years, it is possible to gather information on population change. Many such changes tend to be gradual in nature, with a small percentage increase or decrease each year, often masked by the short-term effects of weather events, such as a severe winter or a summer drought.

 a) Goldfinch  b) Woodpigeon
 c) Yellowhammer  d) House Sparrow

These charts from the Garden BirdWatch Book shows examples of the information being obtained. Although the reporting rates may appear to be small, nationally they represent a large number of birds. Each chart shows the variation id numbers through each year while the peaks and troughs indicate trends. Goldfinches and Wood Pigeons have steadily increased their use of gardens whereas Yellowhammers and House Sparrows have declined. Also Yellowhammers are almost entirely winter visitors to gardens whereas House Sparrows show only small variations in numbers.

Anyone can join in this scheme. Your observations are submitted either on special forms or on-line. If you want to know more phone the BTO on 01842 750050 or email gbw@bto.org


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