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Winter Farmland Birds Survey

Square Survey - Introduction

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The random square survey involved volunteers visiting randomly selected 1-km squares throughout the lowlands of Britain. Bird and habitat recording were undertaken on a patch-by-patch basis within each 1-km square. All non-farmland habitat types were excluded from the survey so in the majority of cases a patch equated to a field, orchard, pig farm or farmyard. Observers made three visits to their square from November to February inclusive and on each visit surveyed as many patches as possible within a four hour time limit. Each patch was assigned a habitat code specific to winter habitats. Habitats were coded on each visit due to the high rate of change due to agricultural operations at this time of year.

The number of squares visited per winter is given below. Note that no square survey work was undertaken in 2001/2002 because the Foot and Mouth disease outbreak was likely to have seriously reduced coverage due to access restrictions. Respectable coverage was still achieved a year later. Within these squares a total of 18,025 habitat patches (= fields, orchards, farm yards) were surveyed at least once, with 14,222, 11,987 and 10,887 surveyed in the three winters respectively. Of these, 6758 were surveyed in every winter. Every winter in excess of 400km2 of farmland was surveyed for farmland birds, the majority of which was surveyed three times per winter. Bird surveys generated approximately 30,000 records of over 300,000 individual birds per winter of the 30 target bird species (see Appendix 1 below for totals).

Summary of 1-km square coverage

Initial number
selected
Winter 1999/2000 Winter 2000/2001 Winter 2002/2003 Surveyed
at least
once
1092 870 801 745 1092

Coverage maps
1999/2000 2000/2001 2002/2003

The table below gives a summary of the occupancy and abundance of the 30 farmland bird species targetted by the Winter Farmland Bird Surveys. Some species were very scarce on random squares (e.g. Tree Sparrow, Corn Bunting) and for these the Winter Walks and Casual Records provide a good source of supplementary information. Many volunteers opted to record optional species, such as the black crows, gulls and woodpigeons and some even agreed to count everything. The third table simply tallies the number of individuals of each optional species. Note that these do not indicate abundance since not all squares surveyed them. Check back in the future for analyses of these extra counts.

A series of more detailed summary pages are provided. From these you can view results for individual species, for individual BTO regions, countries or Government Office regions. Select from the following drop down menus.

 
Appendix 1 Priority species - occupancy and number of individuals

Species Number squares
occupied
% of visits
where present
Winter 1999/2000 Winter 2000/2001 Winter 2002/2003 All winters
Grey Partridge 366 14.2 2622 2220 1443 6285
Golden Plover 162 3.8 9559 4317 3887 17763
Lapwing 438 13.8 22276 18623 11465 52364
Snipe 426 17.0 2011 2281 1826 6118
Curlew 133 5.2 2826 2122 1381 6329
Stock Dove 434 16.0 2669 2567 2081 7317
Woodlark 9 0.3 25 53 25 103
Skylark 765 46.5 19661 19892 15453 55006
Meadow Pipit 737 37.9 11501 11227 6987 29715
Pied Wagtail 796 38.7 4561 3521 2814 10896
Stonechat 157 5.2 326 216 167 709
Fieldfare 907 51.7 60270 61138 45336 166744
Song Thrush 911 53.2 4914 4675 3723 13312
Redwing 828 45.7 29805 34689 21893 86387
Mistle Thrush 838 40.9 2711 2428 1963 7102
Starling 891 52.6 101510 114249 75130 290889
House Sparrow 688 40.3 11918 10946 9064 31928
Tree Sparrow 198 7.7 1795 1820 1252 4867
Chaffinch 1047 83.2 41180 43267 30704 115151
Brambling 84 1.6 303 425 419 1147
Greenfinch 854 41.8 10016 8005 5703 23724
Goldfinch 705 26.9 8667 7429 4234 20330
Linnet 543 19.7 17569 15027 12397 44993
Twite 23 0.5 674 419 310 1403
Lesser Redpoll 77 1.8 319 483 244 1046
Bullfinch 518 19.5 1438 1183 746 3367
Snow Bunting 8 0.2 258 17 10 285
Yellowhammer 689 37.4 10266 9889 7911 28066
Reed Bunting 385 14.1 1680 2042 2084 5806
Corn Bunting 97 3.1 757 1136 778 2671
 
Appendix 2 - Additional species - number of individuals
Note that not all squares monitored these species

Species Winter 1999/2000 Winter 2000/2001 Winter 2002/2003 All winters
Cormorant 2 1 2 5
Little Egret 1 2 1 4
Grey Heron 248 213 171 632
Mute Swan 534 494 384 1412
Bewick's Swan 2 46 0 48
Whooper Swan 11 41 0 52
Pink-footed Goose 1656 11777 490 13923
White-fronted Goose 209 182 1 392
Greylag Goose 1120 1393 909 3422
Canada Goose 906 990 883 2779
Barnacle Goose 475 0 0 475
Brent Goose 6 0 0 6
Egyptian Goose 6 5 0 11
Shelduck 0 42 107 149
Wigeon 198 712 453 1363
Gadwall 0 2 0 2
Teal 185 75 190 450
Mallard 2087 1835 1829 5751
Red Kite 26 40 24 90
Marsh Harrier 1 1 0 2
Hen Harrier 12 6 6 24
Goshawk 2 0 0 2
Sparrowhawk 210 178 144 532
Buzzard 929 712 638 2279
Kestrel 532 405 304 1241
Merlin 10 7 11 28
Peregrine 21 14 13 48
Red-legged Partridge 3343 2500 1903 7746
Pheasant 5920 3350 2238 11508
Water Rail 6 1 3 10
Moorhen 513 576 480 1569
Coot 14 46 12 72
Oystercatcher 118 67 72 257
Ringed Plover 3 0 2 5
Grey Plover 7 0 0 7
Jack Snipe 14 5 23 42
Woodcock 41 71 50 162
Redshank 107 144 63 314
Green Sandpiper 0 0 1 1
Turnstone 0 28 0 28
Mediterranean Gull 1 0 0 1
Black-headed Gull 8400 10751 6366 25517
Common Gull 3038 5737 4171 12946
Lesser Black-backed Gull 733 795 525 2053
Herring Gull 2656 1337 1000 4993
Great Black-backed Gull 266 55 13 334
Rock Dove 28 55 50 133
Feral pigeon 2740 2151 1479 6370
Woodpigeon 43786 44111 38436 126333
Collared Dove 1265 945 808 3018
Barn Owl 17 10 15 42
Little Owl 51 56 41 148
Tawny Owl 2 6 4 12
Short-eared Owl 4 4 5 13
Kingfisher 2 1 0 3
Green Woodpecker 18 30 25 73
Great Spotted Woodpecker 16 16 12 44
Rock Pipit 93 63 26 182
Grey Wagtail 307 126 101 534
Waxwing 0 2 0 2
Wren 3951 3282 2377 9610
Dunnock 3855 3660 3159 10674
Robin 6322 7257 5953 19532
Black Redstart 1 0 1 2
Blackbird 16264 15381 10923 42568
Blackcap 0 2 0 2
Chiffchaff 2 4 1 7
Goldcrest 50 36 31 117
Long-tailed Tit 84 120 89 293
Marsh Tit 158 142 97 397
Willow Tit 27 45 24 96
Coal Tit 5 9 15 29
Blue Tit 378 579 469 1426
Great Tit 136 255 249 640
Nuthatch 4 5 6 15
Treecreeper 6 8 0 14
Jay 527 442 294 1263
Magpie 2940 2819 2432 8191
Chough 1 2 42 45
Jackdaw 9260 8437 7386 25083
Rook 21083 21856 16166 59105
Carrion Crow 7721 7657 6184 21562
Hooded Crow 25 55 13 93
Raven 112 102 124 338
Siskin 165 115 62 342
Crossbill 7 11 5 23
Cirl Bunting 10 16 8 34

The survey organisers would like to thank all the volunteers who worked so hard to make this survey such a success

This work was funded by a partnership of the British Trust for Ornithology and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (on behalf of English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Countryside Council for Wales), and also on behalf of the Environment and Heritage Service in Northern Ireland.

 

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