Sunday, October 29, 2006

Waterbird Review Series.

WWT and JNCC have published this Series in order to meet Britain’s obligations to International conservation agreements, such as the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, whereby member states co-operate in order to ensure a network of suitable habitats is maintained throughout the migratory range of 235 wetland bird species.

The reviews collate forty years of data and knowledge, from long term studies and monitoring programmes, to produce a site inventory for all major wintering goose and swan populations in Britain and Ireland. Each review describes the species abundance, distribution and ecology – both nationally and throughout the species range. As within the spirit of the agreement each review lists current and former sites of importance, presenting numbers and trends, with a summary of site protection status, habitats and site usage.

Reviews to date cover the swans: Mute, Bewick and Whooper; and geese: Bean, Pink-foot, White-fronted, Greylag, Barnacle and three species of Brent. They can be found for free download at:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

BBS and Services to Ornithology

The Breeding Bird Survey, (BTO/JNCC/RSPB) is becoming ‘the’ annual survey for monitoring birds in the UK. Simple in its design it monitors effectively the population changes of over 100, essentially terrestrial birds, present in the UK during the breeding season. Results from the survey are then input into a whole multitude of conservation measures and plans – in the hope that any decisions made are better informed.

Since it’s inception in 1994 it has grown annually with, in 2005, 2300 volunteers surveying 2879 sites. This year, 2006, a new record has been reached with 2887 sets of survey data actually returned; a figure that may increase further when late returns drift in.

The full report from the 2005 breeding season is available for download at:

For those who want to read a bit more about JNCC sponsored bird survey work in the UK you might like to look up their Report Number 382: Services in Ornithology Annual Report 2004-05 (the most recent). It reports surveys on Non-breeding Waterbirds, Terrestrial Birds, the National Ringing Scheme, Population Dynamics, Breeding Performance and Productivity, with Alerts and Environmental Change Predictions.

This report is also free and is available at:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Lancashire Bird Report 2005

dropped through my letterbox today – 168 pages, 4 pages of colour photographs and 15 line drawings – all serving to document the birdlife of Lancashire and North Merseyside in 2005. This is the “county’s” definitive history, year-on-year, and over 300 individuals and/or organisations contributed records.

As one would expect most of the report is the standard species list, but it also includes pages on Escapes and Feral birds as well as a nine page report on ringing recoveries from within the area. A first for Lancashire is also documented – the Caspian Gull (at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn) on 26-27 Feb 2005.

The report – published by the Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Society ( – is available from Dave Bickerton (Secretary) email: for £6.00 plus p/p (or from other usual birding outlets in Lancashire).

Best to get out this winter.

If the latest BTO news release is to be believed then we are not going to see many birds in our back gardens this year – unless things get markedly colder. Bumper crops of hawthorn berries, rose hips and blackberries mean that ‘natural’ food is in abundance and, even faced with our wonderful sunflower hearts, nutritious mixes and niger seed, birds will also follow ‘natural is best’.

Further, because the beech mast crop is the most abundant it’s been since 2002, then Coal Tit, Chaffinch and Siskin will be noticeable absent. However, let’s hope that Scandinavia has a bad winter which will then push all those wonderful ‘winter finches’ – Brambling - our way.