Monday, November 30, 2009

Out of Africa

When the BTO launched its Out of Africa Appeal and fieldwork I was extremely supportative, and interested, in the outcome of both. The Appeal I can follow through the BTO website but the fieldwork has been a bit more problematic - until now. The latest BTO e-newsletter ( gives a link to the Migrant Birds in Africa blog ( giving an up-to-date account of fieldwork as it happens. Happy reading.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Liverpool Bay - public consultation.

Is Liverpool Bay a worthy protection area for birds - especially for Common Scoter and Red-throated Diver? 60-70,000 Common Scoter winter in Liverpool Bay (60% of the UK total) while 1,000 grebes (5% of the UK total) have been recorded. The decision to label Liverpool Bay as an SPA (Special Protection Area) with be presented to the respective English and Welsh governments in summer 2010 following three-months of public consultation. This designation will not protect the Bay from development but it will mean that any proposed schemes e.g. for wind farms, would be dealt with at a higher level of scrutiny.
See: for details
and send comments to:
Picture taken from BBC website, map from Natural England.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

North West Bird Watching Fair

A decent weekend all told. With Ellen Walford (Membership Promotions Officer) and Neil Calbrade (WeBS Low Tide Count National Organiser) coming up from Thetford and support from Tony Cooper (RR Lancs E) , Jean Roberts (RR Lancs NW ), Steve Sutill (RR Manchester) , Jan Gillam (Merseyside GBW Ambassador) and myself we had a good representation all weekend.
It was good to meet and talk to so many of you again, and it was good to talk to all the missing 'email' faces from the Bird Clubs and organisations with which I only have email or letter contact for 363 days of the year. We'll be back next year so put the date in your diary.
L to R: Tony, Me, Jan, Neil, Steve, Ellen (missing Jean - went off to do her WeBS counts!)

The Dilys Breese Medal

Dilys Breese was a pioneering producer of BBC natural history programmes on radio and TV. The Living World, Wildlife on One and The Natural World are some of the series on which she worked. Many people will remember the award-winning film Meerkats United (1987) on which she was executive producer. Less widely known is her work for the British Trust for Ornithology. She became a council member in 1973 and was honorary secretary from 1998 to 2001. In 1983 she became the first recipient of the BTO's Golden Jubilee medal for her outstanding service to the Trust.
Upon Dilys' death the BTO decided to honour her memory by using her bequest to annually award the Dilys Breese Medal - awarded for excellence in communicating the work of the BTO to a wider audience, and raising the profile of bird conservation both nationally and internationally.
The first awards, presented at the House of Lords by Baroness Barbara Young, President of the BTO, were made to; TV Producer and Wildlife Writer, Stephen Moss - Radio Presenter and Producer, Brett Westwood – Journalist and Environment Editor, Stuart Winter - TV Presenter, Writer and Wildlife Stalwart, Tony Soper - New Media guru, Fiona Barclay. Highland Journalist, Ray Collier.
In future years there will only be a single award.
Text taken from Birdguides website and BTO Press release.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The second half.

1.7 million Roving Records, 1.9 million records from BirdTrack, 104,000 timed counts in tetrads - this is the totals for bird records returned in the first two years of the BTO Atlas. Now, as we enter year three, we are looking to fill the gaps and increase that ever important list of species richness and confirmed evidence of breeding.
The image shows the'official' map for the Breeding Season in Merseyside, however, this is a little behind on reality due to issues with data uploading and receipt of observations. The overall picture though is representative. A black square indicates complete, a yellow square is missing a late season visit and no coloured square at all means that data is still required (or has yet to be uploaded).
So, if you feel moved to contribute for the first time, or want to do more, then please contact me. Areas around St Helens are of immediate priority followed by areas south of Ormskirk and Southport respectively.
Now we just need the weather to improve so we can complete winter visits and then look forward to a better spring and summer.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme, now based in Lancaster, (CEH Lancaster, Library Avenue,, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP. Tel. 01524 595830; e-mail: is a scheme run jointly by Natural England, the Environment Agency and that well know group The Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU). Their remit is simple - a long term monitoring programme of the levels of 'contaminants' found in the liver and eggs of predatory and fish eating birds.
A recent article on the Birdguides Webzine featured a Shropshire kestrel sent for analysis: "As many as 70% of the Common Kestrel liver tissue samples tested contain traces of rodenticide. Some of these are the less toxic 'first-generation rodenticides' such as Warfarin™, designed for outdoor use, but most, including our Kestrel, show traces of the more toxic and persistent second generation of rodenticides. For our Kestrel there were traces of Brodifacoum™ which, despite its use being restricted to indoors, is found in 16% of Kestrels".
With kestrels apparently declining in numbers this finding adds more concern to their future well-being.
So, if you find any higher predator - owl, heron, grebe etc - please contact PBMS and see whether they are interested. If so they'll send you postage and packing for its return.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

North West Bird Watching Fair

Martin Mere 21-22nd November.
A BTO stand will be manned all weekend with Ellen Walford, Membership Promotions Officer, coming up from BTO HQ Thetford. A range of Regional Representatives will also be in attendence over the weekend, as will Jan Gillam the Merseyside Garden Birdwatch Ambassador (Sunday only). For those of you who wish to catch up with me I'm down to be present all day Sunday.
For more on the Fair see: