Avon BTO

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Year end

I have had reports of a further ten tetrads over the christmas period, so there are now 29 first visits outstanding. I know that many of them have been done, and hope they will be entered soon. I suspect that there will be a few gaps, but we have done very well indeed.
Second Counts begin on thursday Jan 1- on the whole leave a month between first winter counts and second winter counts- and given that weather is often poor, it is wise to use early opportunities.
The Map of Avon showing the coverage so far does not include all the paper results - 34 tetrads are being done on paper, so that coverage is far better than it looks.
Time to think further ahead. If you saw a local rareity the record will be sent to the local recxorder who may ask for s description as part of the validation process. I hope to complete this for winter species in the next two weeks, and take the breeding species after that. I will also be asking some observers to check the breeding status they recorded.
In March Iwill send round details of the confirmed breeding records we need.
Finally if you dont have much to do in the breeding season- please think of taking on a BBS square. I will be e-mailing those who did tetrads last year but are not doing them this. There is a BBS training programme on Sat 21 March at Westbury. If you are interested contact john Tully on johntully4@aol.com
And good birding in 2009 to all my readers
Richard Bland

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ten days and 40 tetrads to go

Eight new tetrads completed this week, 40 to go by 31st- but I know a number of these have been done and not yet entered, and the most of the rest are promised. With a bit of luck we will get 100% first survey coverage.
Validation. This is now live and I am working on it. Atlas records that are rareities requiring a description are all being sent to the County recorder, in Avon, John Martin. If he has a query about a record this will appear on the home page of your computer with a request that you check it. It is very easy to make a slip- I have made several myself, and if that is what happened with a record just let me know. If you are sure about the record but did not send in a description to the Recorder, please do so- Some of these records go back a long way now I am afraid, and it was not clear to me that this would be the required method of checking rareities. This is important for records for 2008, which may not yet have been seen by John Martin. This also applies to records in the Somerset area of Mendip. I will be working quickly through winter records, and then move on to breeding season ones. For those I may be querying not the ID of the bird but also the breeding status. I may send e-mails direct in cases where there is uncertainty.
John's e-mail is avonbirdrecorder@googlemail.com

Monday, December 15, 2008

On track for 400 tetrads

What an excellent week- results from 19 new tetrads have been entered on line and I know others have been done and not yet entered. As a result 65 of the on-line tetrads have been done and 48 have yet to be entered- and there is the long Christmas break to complete the first surveys.
Every tetrad now has an observer, so our aim of getting all 400 tetrads done in two years may be achieved- though there will be more pressure in the breeding season because we covered fewer tetrads in the first summer season.
Dont forget the Roving records for rareities Waxwings have been reported in the region for instance, and a Mandarin duck on floodwater. All grist to the Atlas mill!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Validation looms

At the BTO conference over the weekend, and now the Website is down for 48 hours for major revamp , so I have no idea how many more tetrads have been done recently. The latest I had was that 46 had been done and 72 were left to do; probably half have now been done, half left.
I will send out a reminder to those who still have to do them- though I can well understand people leaving it until the chrismas break when travel is easier.
Also good news there are I think just four tetrads left to be covered.
Validation means that I will be checking all entries, and If I feel uncertain I will send you an e-mail asking you to confirm the record. It is easy to make slips- I have been guilty of several. As for rareities I will not be asking for descriptions, and my standards will be lower than those of the County Recorder. I just have to be convinced you are certain that you saw enough of the bird to be certain of its identity. The golden rule is "if in doubt leave it out".
But I will also be asking about Breeding Status- many people omitted breeding status when it clearly was a possible breeding bird- and some put in breeding status for birds that were clearly still migrants, or, in July, juvenile birds that had dispersed from their nesting colonies. It is very important for this survey that we very clearly differentiate if possible between species that are breeding and those that are definitely not. Also be clear that breeding status only matters at Ten-km square level, not at tetrad level. I am interested in it at that level, but, because it would be impossible to get the same degree of effort in every tetrad to check status, I do not intend to seek the information.
Please be clear the decision is yours, not mine. I cannot alter what you have entered.
Editing your records is quite easy, though at first a bit daunting.
Richard Bland