Avon BTO

Monday, December 24, 2007

Robins in the snow

Well, on your mantlepiece anyway. Happy Christmas everyone, and good birding up to 31st for all tetrads that have not yet had their first survey. A sponsored New year bird count is a good way to generate early second winter visits, but these should be limited to tetrads visited in November.
If you go to the Recent results on the website, and click on Regional Results, and click on Avon you can now see tetrad distribution of a selection of common species, based on tetrad results both from tetrad surveys and roving records. Some of the obvious gaps are from those who are putting in paper returns, not online ones, so that things are better than they look, and second visits will fill in a lot of the common species that are missing.
Incidentally if you put records on to Bird-track you can are asked to identify your site down to 1k, tetrad or 10k level so that the records can be used for the national atlas. I find I have identified my sites in a rather chaotic manner in the past.
279 tetrads ( of our 400) now have observers; future volunteers will do the breeding season followed by the winter season.
Early breeding. Some species- Owls, Raven, nest early, and if the weather is warm enough many otehrs can be stimulated into nesting activity, so that if there is clear evidence (nest building particularly) a breeding code letter can be entered on a winter visit form. It is also worth noting Rookery numbers and sites because a breeding season count is asked for. This is best done in early April before leafing, so that tetrads with rookeries shoudl be surveyed early in the breeding season if possible

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Last two weeks for first visits

A few updates. We now have 277 of 400 tetrads covered, and at least 145 have had first visits; I say at least, because 59 are being done on paper, and I wont get the results until after the second visit. If a tetrad fails to get a first visit before Dec 31 it will be converted to the next winter season, 2008/9, as it is important that both visits are in the same winter. Of course the breeding season visits can still be done in summer 2008.
ST36, 57, 58, 67 and 68 are now fully covered, but there has been only one visit to ST77. Those who love the Cotswolds might like to take a Roving Recorder trip there during the Christmas break!

There will be a newsletter coming out for HQ in late January, which will be available on the website, but I will have paper copies to send to those who cant access the system.
More and more Blackcap records are trickling in- please send a Roving record in if you come across them or Chiffchaff or Siskin.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Species totals

I have full details of the species so far seen in seven of the 17 10-km squares in the region. In total 140 species have been recorded, and the leader is st 58 with 105; Then ST56 with 89;ST57 with 82; ST47 with 77; ST66 with 61; St 68 with 59; and ST67 with 54

Some species have been missed- LG in ST66,67 SD in 47 and 67 KF in 57 and 66 SC in 57 and 67; NH in 58, 66, and 67 RN in 66, 67, 68.

I will try to get a more complete list of what to search for in the new year.
As far as tetrad coverage goes at the last count 134 tetrads of 217 logged on to the website, ( and 273 covered in total) or 67 % have been done. Those doing them on paper I wont learn about until the forms come in to me when the second count is done. I hope for a lot more if this weekend's weather is reasonable, and the rest will come over the Christmas break. If a first count is not done, the winter survey for a tetrad will have to be done next winter, but of course it can be surveyed in the summer.
From individual tetrad counts the commonest species so far is BH Gull, followed by Starling and Feral Pigeon (most of the counts I have details of have been urban) then Wood Pigeon. This may well change a lot in the new year, and when rural flocks are counted in. The average is slmost 400 birds in a two hour survey.

Dont forget the New Years Day sponsored Bird count. The BTO are half way there with the appeal, and confident, but if you can get someone to sponsor you per species get out on New Years Day, raise some money, and find a few species to put in as Roving records- or even second Tetrad counts if you got the first one in in November.

Richard Bland

Monday, December 10, 2007

BTO Conference

I have just got back from the BTO annual conference, themed on Putting birds on the Map. It was inspiring to meet many other Atlas organisers who have had the same experience of immense enthusiasm as I have had here. The maps that Dawn Balmer put up showing the reuslkts from the first month's work were astonishing, especially for birds such as Buzzard and Littlke Egret.
There are now just three weeks to go to do all the remaining first visits for this winter's survey, and the weather so far in December has prevented many people getting out. The Christmas break should offer enough opportunity to ensure that every tetrad is covered, but please remember that if the first count in a tetrad is not done by Dec 31st, then any later count would only be used as a set of Roving records, because it is important to the survey that both winter counts, and both breeding season counts, are done in the same winter or breeding season.
We now have 272 of 400 tetrads covered- and if you have done a tetrad and feel you could take on another in time this year, please check the availability on the website. There are a lot of interesting tetrads on the Mendips and Cotswolds still up for grabs.
Richard Bland

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Some Recent Decisions

First a milestone- There are now 8 tetrads in ST77 with observers, and Flat Holm in ST26 will also be survyed, so that every 10km square in the region now has minimum coverage. If you go to Recent Results and Regional on the Atlas website you can see the pattern of coverage, and there are maps showing the 10km distribution of some common species. You will see blanks for ST37, part of Clevedon, which is being covered, but no-one has sent in any records from it yet. At the last breeding Atlas it had the longest species lits of any 10km square!
Secondly some Decisions form HQ. The system for allowing local organisers to view and validate results will not be up and running until the end of the first season- it has proved more complex that originally thought. As the Species maps in the Recent Results section are getting boring they are going to put in a different new species every day, especially of ones showing striking change. A count column will be added at some point to Roving Records by popular demand. The tetrad population estimate, which about 12% of people are doing, is being re-examined. (There is an obvious issue here in winter when flocks of many species change location during the winter) The issue of surveying coastal tetrads whose centres are offshore ( we have quite a few of these) will also be revisited. At present records from them are treated as Roving Records, but we surveyed a number last time, and hope to do so again. And dead birds, droppings, footprints, feathers, will not be counted in the national Atlas, (though of course eggshells are breeding evidence). So the Peregrine prey from St John's church Bath will not count, alas.
Richard Bland

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Half way for first winter walks

To summarise where we are. 264 of 400 tetrads have an observer, and at least 120 of the 264 have had their first visits. I say at least because a number of surveys are being done on paper, and I will not know thewir details until the end of the winter wehnt he forms are returned to me. If, having done one tetrad, you feel up to doing a second one, please check what is still available. The more we can cover in the first winter the better.
ST68 is leading the race with 19 of 25 tetards covered already, followed by ST57 and ST58 each with 14
Note that if a tetrad does not get its first survey by Dec 31st it will have to be surveyed next winter, as HQ does not want the two winter walks done in separate winters.
Total species lists for the 10km squares are building up well. If you want to check your own square follow Bird Atlas Home > Your Atlas Options > Square Summaries. This will show you the species you have entered and all others that others have seen. In the second half of the winter I will try to pick out the species in each 10km square that would be expected but are missing, so that we can create as full a list in the first season as possible.