Sunday, 26 February 2012

Spring jolly

The sun is shining; Blackbirds are singing; I even took the fleece lining out of my jacket this afternoon!

The day started with mothing — plenty in the traps after the mild weather, including this Dotted Border showing off its dotted border.

Then onwards to Barnes where this Caspian Gull was pottering about on the wader scrape and a female Bombus lapidarius pottering about the flowerbeds.


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Batumi Raptor Count intern position

The Batumi Raptor Count (BRC) seeks a motivated and passionate intern to work with BRC on developing conservation and monitoring programmes in the Republic of Georgia.  The intern will live near the Black Sea city of Batumi, capital of Ajara region, from April 16th to September/October 2012.  The intern will be required to act as the BRC’s representative “on the ground” and also assist with the organisation of monitoring, education and ecotourism work.  This is a unique opportunity to play a key part in a major conservation activity and is also an excellent chance for the intern to get experience of applied conservation work.  BRC aims to keep the costs to the volunteer low and will provide free accommodation, food, in-country transport and cover the costs of travel to and from Georgia.

As well as organising our activities volunteers will also get the chance to participate in the 2012 autumn migration count where >80,000 raptors can be seen in a day!

Lesser Spotted Eagle & Steppe Buzzards — photo: Stephen Menzie

Please visit the BRC website to download a PDF with more details, including how to apply, or contact Danny Heptinstall — or if you know someone who you think might be interested in the position, do pass along this information.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

2012 Annual Scottish Birdwatchers' Conference

This year's BTO/SOC Scottish Birdwatchers' Conference, held in partnership with Argyll Bird Club, takes place at The Corran Halls, Oban on Saturday 17th March 2012. The conference will showcase leading scientific research on some of Scotland's most iconic wildlife and internationally recognised habitats found on the Isles and mainland of the beautiful west coast.

A PDF of the full programme can be downloaded here. Attendance costs £29 and included conference fee, lunch, and teas & coffees. For further information/booking enquiries please contact Anne Cotton at BTO Scotland: or 01786 466560.  Ensure you book your place before 26th February 2012 to avoid disappointment.

A free BTO-led Wetland Bird Survey walk will take place on Sunday 18th March.  Further details can be found on the conference pdf.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Sneak peek at Bird Atlas 2007-11

The latest news from Bird Atlas 2007-11 is now online: you can download the pdf here.

The Atlas field work is now complete and the newsletter includes details of local atlas projects, preliminary results, breeding season coverage, and a look at species pages from the book.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Blizzard of birds hits frozen gardens

Huge numbers of birds have swept into gardens over the last few days, latest results from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Garden BirdWatch reveal.

Fieldfares and Redwings, both migrant thrushes to our shores, have led the charge. Compared with the preceding week – when thousands of people took part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – over five times as many Fieldfares have recently been seen in gardens, and over twice as many Redwings.

The results, collected by participants in the year-round BTO Garden BirdWatch survey, show that numbers of other thrushes, such as Song Thrush (up 72%), Mistle Thrush (up 49%), have also increased hugely over the past week. Numbers of the familiar Blackbird are up by a third.

Gardens have been inundated across the UK, even where snow has not settled. In southwest England, for instance, where conditions are typically milder than elsewhere, numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare have rocketed. Here and in Wales, gardens are likely to be providing a refuge for many birds displaced from further north and east.

The exciting activity, featuring notable increases of Pied Wagtail, Woodpigeon, Brambling, Wren and Jay, shows just how much things can change in a week.

Tim Harrison, BTO Garden BirdWatch, commented: “Many householders will be really disappointed that this huge influx of birds has come a week too late for their RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch count. Thankfully, however, people can make their garden count all year round through BTO Garden BirdWatch.

Data collected by BTO volunteers show how sensitive our resident bird populations are to severe winter weather. Last winter’s cold snap saw numbers of Robins and Wrens drop by a third, Song Thrushes by a quarter and Dunnocks by a fifth, compared with the five-year average. Fortunately, many of these losses were offset by a bumper breeding season during 2011 but there are now lots of inexperienced birds out there feeling the cold.

Tim continued: “The survival of these birds is on a knife-edge but there is much that householders can do to help. Peanuts, finely grated cheese and beef suet can provide a calorific hit; windfall or fresh fruit will help sustain thrushes, and sunflower hearts are a particular favourite with finches. The other important way to help is by counting your visitors. You can do this whatever the weather through BTO Garden BirdWatch.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Britain's birds need runners

It is well known that some of our favourite birds are in trouble. Birds like the Swift, Cuckoo, House Sparrow and Starling. If you can run, you can help.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), based in Thetford, Norfolk, has reserved a number of places in this year’s Brighton marathon, to be held on 15th April, and it has a small number of them left. By taking part for the BTO, money raised will help conserve Britain’s birds. Last year, runners in the Brighton marathon, helped to fund much-needed research into birds like the Cuckoo, Nightingale and Swift, all of which have shown dramatic declines as breeding birds in this country.

Rachel Irvine, of the BTO, commented, “It is amazing what people will do for Britain’s birds; we have had people jump out of aeroplanes, shave their beard off and cycle coast to coast, all to raise vital funds for research and conservation. Over the last twenty-five years, we have lost over half of our breeding Cuckoos and, more recently, over half of our Nightingales and a quarter of our Swifts. Whilst we know some of the pressures that these birds face, we don’t have the whole picture; until we have this it is difficult to target conservation action to help reverse these declines. By running twenty-six miles you can help birds like these that travel up to ten thousand miles each year. Right now we are tracking Cuckoos in their winter quarters in Congo, Central Africa, using the very latest satellite tracking technology. These birds have already told us a lot we didn’t know but there is still a lot more to learn."

If you want to secure a place, or for more information, please visit or call Rachel Irvine on 01842 750050