Avon BTO

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Just two more winter weeks

Two weeks to go, and 80 tetrads to cover- no problem if the weather holds like this.
Paper Tetrads results are trickling in, and I now have both winter surveys for 29 tetrads. 11 species still have a 100% record, BH, WP, Wr, D., R., B., BT, GT, MG, C. and CH. Including them, 39 species are in 50% or more tetrads. SH makes 45%, SK 41% and KF 28%. MT so far has only been seen in one of the 29- but many are from urban areas.
Provisional changes in the rate per hour compared with the Winter Atlas figures are also interesting, though they were derived from 3000 hours of observation, and so far I have 130 hours. Losses include Stockdove, -96%, Common Gull -85% and Skylark -69%, and gains Buzzard up 332%, Goldfinch up 317%, Robin up 239%, Herring Gull up 198% and Collared Dove up 195%. Raven, of course, did not feature at all in that survey.
It is not too early to think about next winter; some people have alreday booked their tetrads for that, and I want to get all tetrads not done this Atlas session (ie 2007/08) done in the 2008/09 session. This means looking at empty tetrads in ST 35, 45, 55, 65, 75 (ie mendips) 47, 66, 76, 77.
There are about 110 tetrads left to be covered in these areas, so send in your request for them in the usual way.
Finally in the breeding season we want to get the best breeding season evidence for every breeding species in each 10km square (But NOT in each tetrad). So please familiarise yourself with the Breeding Codes. Tetrad visits do not leave time to hunt for evidence (though I hope all rookeries will be countyed in tetrad visits), but Roving Records with breeding evidence- from your own garden, or anywhere that you visit between April and July will be important.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Three weeks left

We are very much on course- 198 tetrads have now been filled in for first survey- and there are 60 more doing it on paper, and 88 so far have done the second survey- not surprising given the poor weather in January. The way February is going there will be a lot of breeding records before the month is out! Drumming woodpeckers counts as D for display- a magpie carrying a twig is B for building. I dont think it is worth putting in S for singing- even for Mistle Thrush- as wee should get better evidence in April.
One or two recent decisions- Any free-winged exotic should be counted-as the Guinea Fowl in ST68 or the Peacock in ST67- "funny" ducks, especially in parks, should technically go down as hybrid duck rather than mallard.
It is not yet at all clear when I will have sight of all the hard work everyone has done, but they are working hard on it. There may well be verification problems, and I will be in touch with anyone whose record I feel uncertain about. The species lists for 10km squares will include bird-track records, but may miss birds that have been sent in as records, but not put in for the Atlas, and I may have to enter them myself for completeness.
It is clearly going to be a poor Fieldfare year, and all tit species are down on last year as are Song Thrush, and Greenfinch. Blackbird are running at double last year.