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Winter Farmland Birds Survey

Winter Walks - Introduction

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Winter Walks forms were distributed to all BTO members (all three winters) and subscribers of the journal British Birds (1999/2000 only). The survey was straight forward - if the observer had a regular route, perhaps a Sunday afternoon stroll, or a dog walk, then we were interested in what was seen on each visit. We asked for a location, grid reference, the length of the route, the date and time of each visit and the number of each species seen. Winter Walks produced a level of information half-way between Casual Records and the Square Survey. They were sites chosen by observers, therefore not randomised, but they were regularly visited and, by recording dates and route length, we could get a measure of observer effort. In this way we could get an idea of how often species were seen at the same place and produce reporting rates similar to those used in the BTO's popular Garden BirdWatch.

Winter Walks - Results

  1999/2000 2000/2001 2001/2002
Routes visited 447 275 303
Records 21,810 13,688 15,990
Total birds 554,861 351,240 395,686

The number of routes visited in 1999/2000, 2000/2001 and 2001/2002 are given in the table above. Part of the reason for the drop in coverage between 1999/2000 and 2000/2001 is probably because fewer forms were distributed. Better puiblicity in 2001/2002 may have helped in the last winter. Of all those routes visited, 114 were surveyed in all three winters and 139 were surveyed in two winters. As can be seen in the graph below, individual routes were most often reported 4 times per winter, though 28% of routes were visited on ten or more occasions.

Figure 1. Frequency distribution showing how many times a route was visited per winter.

Visits were spread throughout each winter as shown in the Figure 2 showing the number of routes visited per day for 1999/2000. The red bars show weekends and it is clear that more routes were visited at weekends than during the week. This same pattern was apparent for the other two winters. Figure 3 shows that the number of visits was lower during weekdays than weekend days. Just as we hoped, this survey appealed to people making their regular Sunday stroll

Figure 2. The number of routes visited on each day (black bars) and weekends (red bars) of winter 1999/2000.

Figure 3. The mean (S.E.) number of routes visited on each day of the week in each year.

The table below gives the total number of birds of each of the target species reported on Winter Walks. These totals exclude multi-species flocks where individual species total could not be determined:

Species
1999/2000
2000/2001
2001/2002
Grand Total
Grey Partridge
2066
955
1585
4606
Golden Plover
51,107
85,384
28,281
164,772
Lapwing
100,252
60,463
72,403
233,118
Snipe
710
341
854
1905
Curlew
9738
1264
3591
14,593
Stock Dove
7290
2139
3167
12,596
Woodlark
49
0
2
51
Skylark
17,136
9365
11,807
38,308
Meadow Pipit
8330
4792
5049
18,171
Pied Wagtail
4068
3078
4647
11,793
Stonechat
248
142
454
844
Fieldfare
73173
39509
56353
169035
Song Thrush*
1995
1656
1781
5432
Redwing
23186
20009
25528
68723
Mistle Thrush
2519
1722
1695
5936
Starling
154227
56828
96963
308018
House Sparrow
8142
5315
5962
19419
Tree Sparrow
1492
843
1096
3431
Chaffinch
39594
18018
29206
86818
Brambling
774
19
214
1007
Greenfinch
6921
5750
5855
18526
Goldfinch
4634
4794
5937
15365
Linnet
11842
7141
10721
29704
Twite
251
328
330
909
Redpoll
400
303
238
941
Bullfinch
899
547
908
2354
Snow Bunting
149
346
47
542
Yellowhammer
10757
6521
9951
27229
Reed Bunting
1911
1419
1761
5091
Corn Bunting
1919
471
796
3186

*Note that some Starling flocks (code = SG) may have been erroneously coded as Song Thrush (code = ST) since a small number of unlikely large flocks of “Song Thrushes” were reported. For further analyses, flocks of >10 Song Thrushes were excluded.

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