BTO Cymru

Croeso i blog BTO Cymru. Welcome to BTO Cymru's blog

Thursday, 2 April 2015

North Wales Twite Project

The project has for some years been colour ringing Twite in the Snowdonia breeding grounds and at the wintering grounds on the Dee estuary and various other localities along the North Wales coast.

The results are beginning to indicate that our small relic breeding population migrate eastwards during the autumn and winter on the Dee.  Larger numbers of birds join them, from the Pennine breeding population and further afield. Some of the Pennine birds continue east and winter on the Norfolk coast. In the second year of the project it was suspected that a Nant Ffrancon bird has been seen in the company of some Pennines birds at Titchwell, however the ring combination seen was not sufficient for a 100% identification. This last winter a bird ringed in Nant Ffrancon in April was seen in a Twite flock on the Norfolk coast.

In 2010 a small flock of Twite were present on Pensarn beach one of which had a BTO metal ring. This flock was caught and the ringed bird was found to be from near Lochinver in north-western Scotland. In December 2014 another one of this flock was recaught at Askham, Cumbria.  The small flock which appeared at Cemlyn last autumn also contained a ringed bird. When she was eventually caught she was found to be from the 15 miles south of the original Pensarn Scottish bird.  

For the past two winters we have been very lucky to have Richard Beckett join the Twite team, and Richard has spent many hours recording ring combinations and the comings and goings of the Deeside birds.  This winter a reasonable number of Twite have been feeding regularly at Deeside Naturalist Society reserve, and with their continued permission a further 68 have been colour ringed. Also caught have been a number of birds originally ringed at the Mull of Kintyre. The Mull of Kintyre have a small breeding population but also has a marked passage of autumn birds passing south and reasonable numbers have been ringed there.

                                                               Photo Richard Beckett

We are initially proposing that the coastal wintering birds here in North Wales may well be birds from the north west of Scotland, with our Welsh birds from Snowdonia venturing eastwards and mixing with Pennine birds on the Dee, some of which will continue eastwards with their new mates.

Due to Richards’s diligence last year we knew when the Deeside birds began their spring dispersal and a few weeks later the first of the Nant Ffrancon birds were back in the Ogwen valley. From Richards’s recent observations the flock at Deeside has now begun to disperse. Over the next few weeks the critically low Welsh breeding population will be making their way along the North Wales coast back to Ogwen. Can I ask all North Wales Birders to be aware of this and keep an eye and an ear open for them on passage? We have about two and a half weeks and it would be very interesting if we could plot some of their traditional staging points along the coast.

Thanks and happy hunting.

Please report any sightings to

The North Wales Twite Project is a collaborative project between, Kelvin Jones, Ian Spence, Richard Beckett, RSPB Cymru,BTO Cymru, National Trust, Snowdonia National Park, Deeside Naturalists Society, North Wales Wildlife Trust, and Flintshire Council

GBW and ringing working hand in hand.

Trevor and Chris Bashford of Dolgellau are possibly the most fortunate Garden Birdwatchers in Wales. As previously reported they regularly have Hawfinches in their garden and have over the past few years read and photographed numerous colour ringed individuals, including a bird from the Forest of Dean last year. 

This year things are going even better with the 100th colour ringed bird being recorded to date, and to quote Trevor, "there seem to be as many unringed birds coming as well"

Now where’s the phone number of that Estate Agent…………………………

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Need for Speed

At 15:30 on 3rd December 2014 a Starling was caught and ringed on Bardsey. At 19:00 that evening and 37km away in a roost of over 100,000 Starlings at Afonwen farm near Criccieth the same Starling was caught again by Phil Belman. Phil has been ringing Starlings at this roost site for a number of years and has generated number of interesting records of eastern European birds.

The previous August Dave Hill ringed a Swallow at 12:40 on the 8th at Rhiw on the tip of the peninsula, which was later caught that evening coming in to a roost on Bardsey.

The Swallow was not quite as quick as the Starling. Any other ringers out there with "Speedy" controls?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Glaslyn Whooper Swans

At Christmas 1972 a herd of 29 Whooper swans arrived at Portreuddyn farn, between Tremadog and Prenteg. Since then the herd has returned annually to various fields in the Glaslyn valley. They like the large open fields, frequently feeding very close to the main Prenteg to Llanfothen road, giving excellent views. Over the years the numbers have fluctuated peaking at 80 some years ago

Over the years a number of ringed birds have been present, with some like 2J34 returning for over 10 years. Most of these birds were originally ringed at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserve at Martin mere. with a few having been ringed in their native Iceland. The birds were fitted with conspicuous and easily read plastic rings so excellent histories of these birds are available. However in the last few years only a single ringed bird has been present with the herd

On Saturday 21st February SCAN ringing group changed this and a family party were neatly caught and fitted with both metal and plastic rings. The majority of this family were cygnets and should over the next 10 years hopefully give us a story of migration to rival the nearby nesting Ospreys.

Can anybody reading the rings please inform  the BTO Cymru office.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Introduction to the Breeding Bird Survey and other BTO Surveys

Over the past few years we had very successful  Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) training sessions across Wales.This year we are taking a slightly different approach and having a sessions which will also be covering several of the other key BTO surveys.

You are invited to come to a meeting to meet other volunteers, share experiences and learn about existing and future BTO surveys. The agenda has not been finalised so we are asking you what you would like to be included. We will be covering an introduction to BBS, update on BirdTrack (if you don’t already use this system for your bird recording or would like to know more), learn about the Waterways Breeding Bird Survey, the Wetland Bird Survey, the Heronries Census, the 2015 House Martin survey and whatever you may want to discuss.

There is a choice of four venues, both hosted by Kelvin Jones, BTO Cymru Development Officer.

Clawddnewydd Village Hall, near Ruthun LL15 2ND, Saturday 14th March at 13:30.

Llechryd Village Hall, Cardigan SA43 2NR (opposite petrol station) on Sunday 22nd March from 10:30

Llangasty Village Hall LD3 7PJ (next to Llangors lake) on Saturday 28th March from 10:00.

Pensychnant Conservation Centre, Conwy, Sunday 12th April 10:30

Tea/Coffee will be available, and we would appreciate knowing whether you can attend in advance so please RSVP by  10th March for Clawddnewydd, 12th March for Llechrhyd, 20th March for Llangasty, and 1st April for Pensychnant.

We would love to hear from you about what you would like to get out of these meetings and if you know of anyone who would like to get involved in BTO surveys do please bring them along.

For more details contact either your regional rep or Kelvin at the BTO Cymru office.

Kelvin Jones,
BTO Cymru,
Tel: 01248 383285

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Friends of Skokholm and Skomer recognised

At a ceremony in London, The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer  were awarded the Marsh Award for Local Ornithology in recognition of the huge amount of work they have done to put Skokholm Island back on to the British ornithological map.
Photograph by Nick CaroSkokholm Island, off the coast of Pembrokeshire, is home to internationally important wildlife populations, and is particularly well known for its seabirds. It was the first Bird Observatory in Britian, but lost its Observatory status in 1976. The island was bought by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales in 2007, by which time the buildings and ‘birding’ infrastructure were in complete disrepair and non-functional. Thanks to the Friends this is no longer the case.  The work took four years to complete and almost 20,000 hours of voluntary labour.
The Friends are incredibly important to the islands of Skomer and Skokholm and since1981 the membership has grown to over 400. Members help finance essential work on the islands through their subscriptions, but more importantly, many have taken part in voluntary work parties to help bring Skokholm back to its former glory and its return to official Bird Observatory status in 2014

Members of the Friends often act as voluntary wardens on both Skomer and Skokholm helping with practical maintenance tasks, wildlife recording and research studies and are currently engaged in digitising the daily bird logbooks which date back to 1933.

The award was presented by The Duke of Edinburgh at a ceremony hosted by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) at the Mall Gallery in London.

Steve Sutcliffe, the driving force behind the Friends and a former Skomer Warden said, "I am absolutely delighted that the hard work of the many volunteers who have helped to restore Skokholm has been recognised in this way.  The Friends of Skokholm and Skomer have been the catalyst, raising funds and providing a huge amount of support for the project, and I am honoured to receive this award on their behalf."

Andy Clements BTO Director said, "The Marsh Awards for Ornithology enable BTO to recognise the excellent work of ornithologists at a variety of scales, all of whom are partners with BTO in ensuring science contributes to conservation. Volunteering is central to BTO Science and I am delighted that the local Marsh Award is going to the Friends of Skokholm and Skomer whose hard work has rejuvenated a key migration watch-point."

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Inland Montgomeryshire WeBS

     The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS)
The UK is of outstanding international importance for waterbirds. Lying on some of the major flyways for Arctic-nesting species, large numbers of waterbirds are attracted, especially during winter, by the relatively mild climate and extensive areas of wetland. The UK thus has both moral and legal obligations to conserve both these waterbirds and the wetlands upon which they depend
Nationally over 3,000 volunteers go out on count days, and their data is used to assess the size of waterbird populations, determine trends in numbers and distribution, and assess the importance of individual sites for waterbirds, in line with the requirements of international conservation Conventions and Directives.
Montgomeryshire has a number of inland sites which are no longer routinely counted. BTO Cymru in partnership with the Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust are hoping to address this issue by providing a brief "Introduction to WeBS” course at the:

Cors Dyfi, Nature Reserve
10:30 am on Sunday 16th November.

If you have a few hours to spare on one Sunday morning a month, and would like to contribute to one of the most important and long term monitoring schemes, come along.
Please express an interest by contacting either

Tammy Stretton,   Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust,
Emyr Evans, Cors Dofi, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust,
Kelvin Jones, BTO Cymru, 01248 383285 or kelvin.jones@bto .org

Jane Kelsall, Montgomeryshire WeBS organiser,