Avon BTO

Sunday, November 30, 2008

First Survey, four more weeks

An excellent week. Go to Recent results, click on Avon, scroll down to tetrad cover and click on W for Winter, and the Black squares are what we dit last winter, the yellow ones are the first survey this season. The map is turning yellower every day- 41 tetrads have had their first survey this month, and that leaves just 80 to go (and another 24 paper surveys). Even better there are just six tetrads that still do not have observers, thanks to several generous offers of help this past week. The ones left ( One in ST45, Cheddar gorge, two in ST 55- around Green Ore on Mendip, two in ST75 around Norton ST Phillip, and one in ST76 on the southern edge of Bath) are not instantly enticing, but that is the fun of tetrading- you never know what you are going to meet in places you have never visited. Any offers gratefully received.
The idea of target species is having some effect- certainly missing species have been recorded in several squares. Tree Creeper and Marsh Tit are worth putting in a Roving record for wherever found- they tend not to get seen in the standard two hours. And I have seen reports of rareities that I hope are being sent in as Roving Records- I cant do it for you.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Progress report

Not a brilliant week to birdwatch, but 26 tetrads have now reported and there are 98 to go, and five weeks left, so the rate per week needs to pick up sharply. There are also now only 11 tetrads that have no observer, and I am still getting offers of help. I will be doing several of them, but they are all fairly distant from Bristol, so any other offers of help would be much appreciated.
No sign of Waxwings yet- and they wont find much to eat either, as it is a poor autumn, which may well affect the totals, though so far there have been some large flocks of Starlings and Wood Pigeons and Common Gulls.
Dont forget Roving Records of any unusual species- only ST 55 and ST56 have a full house of expected species.
I did one very dull tetrad this week- 19 species and, apart from a large flock of Starlings, just 250 birds; but what is not present is as important as what is present, because its ays something about the habitat as well as the birds. I was surprised to find a large field of unharvested maize, and not a bird in sight, though the cobs were apparently easily accessible; but perhaps birds dont like them, or dont recognise them as food
Validation still has not begun- everyone will soon have forgotten what they saw last year!

Richard Bland

Monday, November 17, 2008

Grey November

17 days and 18 tetrads done on line, and of course more, probably, on paper. 105 to go.
And my advice is, get the first survey done before the Christmas rush sets in. A lot of observers last year left everything to the post Christmas holiday, then had trouble in February, leaving a month between counts, finding the time. Incidentally remember that the figure used for each species is the maximum of the two counts; so dont be too concerned if you feel November counts are rather low- the January one can always boost them.
Initial impressions are a lot of LT, and rather few BT and GT; a lot of FF and rather few RE.
Fewer WP than last year, and perhaps fewer CD; a lot of SG- but its all very early days. Also there will be no easy way to compare the two winters, as the results will simply be summed by 10km square. This is rather different from the last winter Atlas, which had three very different winters, and for some species produced strongly different results.
Feral species. Please count anything that is free-winged- I have had three lots of Helmeted Guinea Fowl, I am pleased to say. It is worth trying to distinguish between wild Mallard and various odd mallards that have crossed with farm ducks, or whatever. And put in Roving records for any Parakeets, Egyptian Geese etc. Because we cannot know what species may take off in the next twenty years it is important not to ignore anything- not even Feral pigeon- and they have not been proved to breed in every 10k square yet.
I keep saying it, but verification is due to start any day, and you may get a note asking whether you are sure it was a lesser crested whatsit, and you are certain it bred in the tetrad. And please note I cant change any of your records. I have your username but not your password- only you can do that via "Edit my records"
Richard Bland

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New season starts

Some time since I put pen to paper, and a busy time too. Eleven days gone and ten tetrads have had their first survey- well done to start early. 102 computer entry tetrads to go, if my files are right, as there are still 15 tetrads without an observer.
It is a very good idea to go the first winter survey in November- it prevents last minute panic in bad weather. The figure that will be used for the tetrad is the maximum for each species of the two counts, so that things missed in November should be spotted in January.
Almost all the breeding season results are in- still waiting for one or two!- with these overall results. 234 tetrads have been received, 132 076 birds were counted in 900 hours of observation at an average of 147 birds/hour. 157 species recorded of which 111 were breeding and 46 were migrants, summerers, or vagrants. Average species per tetrad was 38 and average maximum count per tetrad was 356.
Six species were breeding in all 19 10-km squares, another 23 in 18 squares, and a further 12 in 17 squares- ie 41 species were in effect universal. However there will be a lot of work to do in the summer upgrading species in every square to proved breeding status.

This winter I can see as records come in- expect a note of thanks.
I will try to update the blog weekly on a Monday in future.
Fairly soon "validation" of all previous records will start- so If I have a query about a record you will get an e-mail- please respond fast! There are very few I am worried about, but there will be some changes to breedings status.