BTO Newsletter

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Making your birdwatching count! Become a member or contribute to one of our surveys. Together we can make a real difference to the future of Britain’s birds.


To all TDFC Members

Migrant birds have been flooding into the country over the last month, and we have had lots of reports of nesting birds. Last year around 1,000 people helped us to monitor House Martins and this year we are running the survey again. If you or your friends have House Martins, please do get involved.

Arriving migrants get people talking Chris Packham on the A2B Arrival Calendar
Chris Packham, Sheena Harvey, David Lindo and Miranda Krestovnikoff have all joined in to talk about migrant species on the A2B Arrival Calendar. BTO scientists have also been elaborating on our work here and in Africa as part of our research into the decline of migrant birds.
The Calendar brings together data from BBS, ringing studies and the provisional data from the first two years of Atlas fieldwork for each of the 17 species featured and makes for interesting but very troubling reading. The last clip will be shown on the 29 April and any previous clips you missed can also be viewed for a limited time.

In some related research, BTO’s Chas Holt has been looking at how deer are affecting Nightingale numbers in the UK. Read more about his findings in this article entitled ‘Deer, oh dear’.

---When did you record your first returning migrant?
Sand Martin by Lawrence G BaxterWheatear, Sand Martin and a striking male Garganey all heralded the onset of spring for Nick Moran, BirdTrack Organiser, on 21 March. Relating personal observations to the wider pattern of returning migrants is fascinating and the BirdTrack animated maps are a great way to do this. Visit the Reports by Species page, select species from the animated map drop-down menu, choose the month(s) you want to view and watch the story unfold.Cuckoo Animated maps on BirdTrack

Results suggest that whilst a few species such as Sand Martin were a bit tardy this year, most migrants returned bang on time. Take a look in the BirdTrack flickr pool to see Little Ringed Plover, Wheatear and Sedge Warbler.  Look out for a trio of awesome aeronauts returning to our skies in the next fortnight: Arctic Tern, Hobby and Swift.

At this time of year your complete lists are particularly valuable in providing data on migratory species, so don’t forget to record your sightings.
Brand new ‘optional detail’ recording is available – you can now mark your first Swift of 2010 as remarkable!

---Heard a Cuckoo?
Cuckoo by Edmund FellowesOver the last week the first Cuckoos of the year have been arriving across Britain and Ireland and we need to record their distribution for the Bird Atlas 2007-11. Provisional results from the Atlas fieldwork carried out so far show worrying gaps in distribution – are these losses or gaps due to poor coverage? By recording your Cuckoo (and other species you see and hear) you will help ensure the Bird Atlas is as comprehensive as possible.

See where Cuckoos have been reported in 2008 and 2009 and where the gaps lie.

---Garden BirdWatch Results 2009
Garden BirdwWtch results 2009Annual results of the BTO Garden BirdWatch have just been published and show dramatic changes in the use of gardens by birds in 2009. The data were compared with the long-term average (as calculated from 1995-2008 results) and showed that Goldfinches, Long-tailed Tits and Woodpigeons occurred in a much greater percentage of gardens in 2009 while Starlings, Wrens and Song Thrushes declined.

---Nesting season in full swing
Great Tit by David WaistellThe results from this year’s Nest Box Challenge (NBC) show that the season is now in full swing, with many broods of Robins and Blackbirds already starting to leave the nest and the first Great Tit chicks reported on the 12 April. Have a look in your garden boxes and bushes and report your findings to NBC on-line. Our free
nest wallchart will help you to identify them.

---April’s featured article
In  a new regular piece we will be featuring an article each month. The first is by BTO’s Paul Stancliffe on the effects of weather on migration, as featured in the April issue of Bird Watching Magazine.

Did you know….
If you were to blindfold a Robin’s right eye it wouldn’t be able to orientate itself using the Earth’s magnetic field. Blindfold the left one however,  and the birds orientation isn’t affected at all. This is because the Robin’s ability to detect a magnetic field is centered within the right eye and left brain hemisphere. (Research by Wolfgang Wiltschko, 1968)

BBS surveyors contribute to the recently published Regional Bird Indicators for England, a key indicator for sustainable development in the UK.  The report shows an 11% decline in Farmland birds and a 6% decline in Woodland birds. ---New membership offer - join today and receive a free ‘birdwatchers survey kit’ ---Quiz in memory of Bob Scotta fun quiz requiring a small donation to take part which will complement our work in Africa.
‘Plant it’ Seeded Greeting Cards- A unique card and gift in one, send this to a friend now and they will be able to plant the card and watch them grow into beautiful wild flowers. Buy 1 card for £2.49 or 3 for £4.99 and take advantage of the special reduced postage rate for this item at just 50p.
---Events coming up over the next month
7/9 May – BTO survey methods training course, Rhyd-y-Creuau in North Wales
15/16 May – BTO speaking at the Birdwatchers’ Spring Fair near Tamworth
22 May – ‘Wild about Wensum’ at Pensthorpe, North Norfolk, with fun children’s activities
Click on the following links for further information on events or training.

BTO Communications Team
British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, Norfolk IP24 2PU
Tel: +44 (0)1842 750050 / Fax: +44 (0)1842 750030 / Web: / Email:
Registered Charity Number 216652 (England & Wales), SC039193 (Scotland).
Company Limited by Guarantee no. 357284 (England and Wales)

Photo credits (left to right): Waxwing by John Harding, Nightingale by Mike Weston, Goldfinch by Jill Pakenham


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