Herts Bird Club has a wide ranging programme of birding activities, check out what is on offer below and get involved. Everyone can take part.

Urban Gull Survey 2019 - Herts (JNCC Seabird Count 2015-2019)

This national survey is planned.

In 2019 there will be a national census of urban nesting Gulls. This follows last year’s census of natural nesting seabirds as part of the 4th UK seabird census (called the Seabird Count) which has been running since 2015 but only fully funded and nationally coordinated since 2018. The census has been developed by the Seabird Monitoring Panel (SMP) and is coordinated by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), managed by national organiser Daisy Burnell and a team of county organisers for which I volunteered for Hertfordshire.  Full details can be found at Seabird Count.

Last year in Hertfordshire we achieved good coverage of our regular “naturally” nesting seabirds which comprise Cormorant, Common Tern and Black-headed Gull. Results have been collated and are being entered on the JNCC national database. It is hoped that the data from the 2018 and 2019 fieldwork will be presented in a future article in the Herts Bird Report.

It’s now time to prepare for the final year of the Seabird Count which will be of our urban nesting Gulls, which comprise Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

It is known that these Gulls nest on buildings in several areas of the county including Watford, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Borehamwood, but there has been expansion in to other areas over recent years. A total of 109 1km squares have been randomly selected from all those containing suitable urban buildings on which Gulls might nest. Volunteers are asked to visit these squares to look for breeding Gulls and to count the number of pairs of each species if found. Further details and recording forms are available in volunteer packs (electronic files) which will be mailed to those wishing to help with the survey.

See attached list of selected squares – a large number to cover! It would be great if members could look and see if any squares are near to where they live or work and are able to survey. 

 

If anyone wishes to take part please contact me at murray.orchard@live.co.uk

English Farm Woodland Bird Survey 2019 (BTO)

This national survey is ongoing.

This survey has started but there is still time to sign up.

Since 1988, over 22,000 farm woods have been planted in England.  The woods are mostly small, between 1 and 5 hectares in size, which will make survey coverage quite quick and straightforward.  These farm woods were planted in a wide variety of settings, ranging from complete isolation through to alongside existing established woodland. This provides a very interesting natural experiment to assess how well birds have colonised these new woodlands on farmland.

A new survey for 2019 plans to provide data on how birds have colonised woods planted in farmland.

What is required?

Surveyors need to be able to identify birds by sight and sound, and ideally they will have had experience with other BTO surveys or bird territory mapping.

This survey will cover many of the 46 farm woodland sites previously surveyed in 1999, as well as up to 2000 other farm woods, which haven’t been surveyed at all.

The sites are small, so it should be possible to cover a number of woodland plots on a farm in a morning; each plot should take around 20 to 30 minutes to survey, depending on size!

Four morning visits are required between mid March 2019 and 15 July 2019, to record all birds in and around the farm wood plot. Registrations will be recorded on site maps, using standard BTO species and activity codes, mainly to accurately plot all individuals and help avoid double counting.  A summary of the number of territories detected will then be determined from each survey visit.

Some basic, but essential, habitat recording will be required for farm woods, to record the features such as tree species, boundary type and mammal activity.

Please see BTO Survey Methods Page for further survey details.

How to sign-up for the survey

It is now possible to register for the survey. You will be able to view an interactive map of farm woodland locations, summarises by 1-km squares, from which you can select the sites you would like to survey.

Some squares may only have single farm woods, whereas others will have many, so we would encourage you to pick squares with multiple farm woods if possible.

Once a location has been selected, we will then need to contact the landowner to request permission to survey the site, which isn’t guaranteed, and then provide contact and visit details to the surveyor.

Further information

Please see the Resources page for details of field methods, recording forms and other useful survey information.

You can contact the survey organisers Daria Dadam and Greg Conway via farmwoodbirds@bto.org

English Winter Bird Survey

This national survey is ongoing.

Thank you if you have been taking part in this survey which finished in March. It has been based on existing BBS squares especially those within farmland. There are 130 BBS squares possible within Herts. Of these 39 were surveyed for winter birds some by existing BBS surveyors but a few were covered by new surveyors. The online data entry is via BBS Online, please make every effort to upload your data as soon as possible if you have not already done so. 

Project Owl

This national survey is ongoing.

In the autumn of 2018, there was a national Tawny Owl Point Survey TOPS organised by the BTO. Various 10km squares were selected and tetrads (squares of 2km x 2km) identified within them so that results could be compared with unpublished data from Tawny Owl surveys in 1989 and 2005. Nationally it is estimated that about 54% of the tetrads were occupied compared with 63% previously. Within Hertfordshire 47 tetrads were allocated. Projects like this require external funding. For TOPS the funding was only sufficient for the autumn survey so there will be no follow up in the spring or repeat in the autumn of 2019. 

The second element of the surveying is the Tawny Owl Calling Survey TOCS. This involves listening regularly from a fixed point (e.g. outside the front door!). This has recruited a large number of people new to bird surveying. In Hertfordshire, 174 individual people signed up covering 183 sites. Online data has been submitted for 123 sites of which Tawny Owls have been heard at least once in 94 of them. 

Both surveys are now complete.

 

Hertfordshire House Martin Survey 2015

This local survey is complete.

The recent Birds of Hertfordshire states: “The House Martin is still a widespread breeding species but the 2008-12 atlas results suggest a significant decrease in numbers and distribution with many former colonies now abandoned”. Herts Bird Club carried out a local survey in 2015.

The results have been published here.

Hertfordshire Rookery Census 2015

This local survey is complete. Survey website

Fieldwork for this survey is complete and results were published int he 2015 Hertfordshire Bird Report. Thank you to everyone who took part.

The results have been published here.

Bird Ringing

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

Nationally the ringing scheme is overseen by the BTO. There are three active ringing groups operating in Hertfordshire:

In 2015 over 19000 birds were ringed in the county. Details are published yearly in the Hertfordshire Bird Report. If you would like to take part or train as a ringer, please contact the BTO.

Nest Record Scheme

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

The Nest Record Scheme is one of the longest running monitoring programmes of the BTO. Hertfordshire birders take part and we want to encourage more of you to submit nest records. First started in 1939, the scheme has collected well over 1.25 million records during its 70 years of existence. Although often receiving a lower profile than other national monitoring schemes, nest record data have been vital in diagnosing the causes of declines of some species and it was nest record data that were first used to demonstrate the shift to earlier nesting by many species linked to the recent warm springs. Nest recording is one of the simplest BTO projects to take part in, so it is accessible to everyone. It provides an ideal opportunity for you to participate in the conservation of Britain’s birds. So, whether you can monitor a single garden nestbox or are carrying out a larger study, please submit your records to BTO. The 2008 Hertfordshire Bird Report has the latest summary of nest records in Herts.

Garden BirdWatch

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

Keep a note of the birds seen in your garden. Garden BirdWatch organised by the British Trust for Ornithology monitors the changing fortunes of birds and other garden wildlife through its network of 'citizen scientists'. Observations collected by Garden BirdWatchers are analysed by BTO researchers and published in leading journals. BTO Garden BirdWatchers have charted the decline of the House Sparrow, the rise of the Woodpigeon, have discovered that urban birds get up later than their rural counterparts and have alerted conservationists to the impact of an emerging disease in Greenfinches. You can take part - find out more about the project here.

Wetlands Bird Survey (WeBS)

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

If you are interested in wildfowl, this one is for you. Organised nationally by the BTO, in conjunction with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, RSPB and JNCC, Herts birders have been participating for many years building up a clear picture of population changes over time. Wildfowl are counted at the major wetland sites once a month throughout the year.

Hertfordshire WeBS results are now published in full on our website, for the years 2017, 2016, 201520142013, 2012, 20112010 & 2009. Results for previous years were published in the Herts Bird Report each year.

Check the WeBS website for more information. We are looking for more volunteers to help with the surveys, so please contact Cath Patrick (Lee Valley sites) or Jim Terry if you would like to take part.

Breeding Bird Survey (BBS)

This national survey is ongoing. Survey website

The BBS is the main source of population trend information about the UK’s widespread breeding birds – an important indicator of the health of the countryside. The survey is organised nationally by the BTO in conjunction with RSPB and JNCC. Hertfordshire is well represented with over 70 volunteers participating covering at least 90 plots in 2016. The Hertfordshire results are published every year in the Hertfordshire Bird Report.

We would like more volunteers - taking part is easy – just visit a local square twice during the breeding season, and record all birds you see or hear using standard methods. If you would like to find out more or take on a BBS square check the BBS website or contact Martin Ketcher.

Because of the high level of coverage in Hertfordshire, we are already able to monitor 30 species locally. With your support to increase the coverage, we could do more.

Projects on Biodiversity Action Plan species - Tree Sparrows

This local survey is ongoing.

The Herts Bird Club leads the action Tree Sparrows to protect their breeding sites in the county.

The last remaining Tree Sparrow breeding colony in Hertfordshire nests in boxes in the Tyttenhanger area. The main breeding site is on private land and the nest boxes are monitored closely by Herts Bird Club members (see photo below).

?Herts Bird Club provides supplementary feeding for the birds all year round at two sites. There is public access to the feeder at Tyttenhanger Farm, it is located in an enclosure to the east of Lawson's builders merchants yard. You can get good views of the Tree Sparrows in the hedge and on the feeder from the public footpath and field margin.

After several difficult years this strategy seems to be paying off and the numbers of birds has stabilised.

All the Tree Sparrow pulli are ringed every year and some have been fitted with electronic monitoring tags. You can see the PIT tag fitted to the sparrow's leg in the photo. So we are starting to understand more about these lovely birds and their needs.
Reports from the Tree Sparrow Project Team are available for 2010 and  2009 and a paper was published in July 2014 the Hertfordshire Bird Report 2012.