Avon BTO

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Three weeks in

Of the 400 local tetrads 252 now have an observer responsible for them, and at least 72 (28%) have had their first walk. Those who do BBS on-line know that John always thanks you for your survey as soon as you send it, which is encouraging. Because of the Atlas system I do not get an alert when you enter tetrad results, and have rather tediously to hunt through each 10k square to find out which have been done, but I am delighted that so many have already been surveyed. There are just under six weeks left, and i would like to encourage those who have yet to carry out their first survey to do so before christmas, when in my experience life gets busy.
I have logged 128 species so far in the region, but dont yet have accurate 10km square lists. When I do I will be listing the species not yet seen which need hunting for in each 10km square.
Incidentally there are 133 observers in total so far , of whom 73 are BTO, BBS or GBW, and a number RSPB.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The first quarter

Ive just checked through, and 25% of the 251 tetrads that now have observesr for this year have had their first visit. There are six weeks to go to complete the first winter walks, so we are well on track. ST58 and ST68 with ten and nine tetrads having been walked are the current leaders. ST36 is the first 10k square to have every tetrad covered by an observer.
I am not yet able to see the results you have sent in on line, and can only judge the species count from bird track records, which come from a limited number of squares. But I have records of 120 species in the region, and ST58 leading the field with 60 species. When we did the trial fieldwork in ST 46 and ST68 we had around 70 species in each of those inland squares, and those on the coast and round the reservoirs will be higher than that.
Colder and wilder weather will probably bring more species in- certainly my garden feeder has abruptly become active.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Atlas First Fortnight

Nationally 2.3 million birds and over 1900 tetrad visits
Locally 242 tetrads now covered, over 60% of the 399 we will cover. 43 have received their first visit, or 18%, about double the national figure.
The initial impression is that many species especially Tits and finches are thin on the ground, and this is probably the result of the poor breeding season. But also they are easier to see once the leaves are all off the trees, and the second visit in the new year may well produce higher figures. The excellent weather so far has been a very good reason for getting out.
Also if you have done a tetrad and feel that you could fit a second one in it would make reaching our target even closer. Only ST36 so far has every tetrad covered.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Atlas-The First week

The Atlas has had an amazing start, both nationally and locally. Nationally they have had 770 tetrads visited, and 1500 on line participants, who have sent in records of over 1 million birds. If you go to the results section of the website you can see maps of a number of species.
In the Bristol region we have 231 of 399 tetrads covered, and effectively total coverage of ST36 and ST58, which is almost 60%. 23 tetrads have received their first visit for the winter, which is good going. Several people have said that numbers are very low, and are waiting until things get a bit more interesting and the leaves are off the trees, but it has been very nice being out in clear calm weather. It is a good idea to get the first visit done in November as December often gets busy, there is very little light, and the weather can be nasty. If, having done one tetrad you realise how easy it is and want to volunteer for another please do so-I have set the target of coveraing all tetrads in two years, but it would be nice to almost complete it in one! And dont forget in many regions of the country each observer is responsible for a whole ten km square, and covering the minmum eight tetrads in it himself.
I dont yet have access to the records of other observers- that is being worked on, but it is clear from my own records that the number of Blue Tits and Great Tits is well down on recent winters. In the last winter Atlas, around 1980, over three years there were 3000 hours of observation, and I calculated the rate at which each species was seen overall which gives a good oveall feel for observed density. Blue Tits were observed at an average of 5.4 an hour and Great Tits at 3.0 per hour. This winter over twelve hours of observation I have had rates of 3.3 and 0.8 respectively. This is the consequence of the terrible breeding season which the CES figures just released have revealed.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Atlas day 1

What a splendid start. Some 6400 records counting over 60,000 birds were received by the BTO on the first day. The system that will allow me to review the local records is not yet in place, so I dont know how many Roving Recorder records have gone in. But every sighting of a species in a 10-km square can be logged in. I have recorded 33 species in ST57 so far.
I have done my first tetrad, and had young Feral Pigeons in a nest, so I hope that is the first breeding record in the Atlas! There are other species that breed through the year, Collared Dove and Wood Pigeon, and Owls start breeding very early- as do Ravens. In the past when it has been warm we have had Blackbirds nesting in late December. The system will accept breeding records during the winter, but will always flag them up and ask you to check you haven't made an error.