Scottish Woodland BBS
Using the BBS to improve our information about woodland birds
Across the UK many woodland bird species have undergone marked declines over the past four decades. The causes of these declines are varied, including changes in woodland management, the spread of deer, deterioration of the wintering grounds of migrants, and changes on surrounding agricultural land.
In Scotland, however, the woodland bird indicator, currently based on the population trends of 23 species, has increased since the start of the BBS in 1994, implying that woodland birds have fared better over the last 15 years than their southern counterparts.
Almost all of the population trends used in this annually updated indicator come from the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), and its value relies on the inclusion of a representative sample of woodland species. When the indicator was first developed about six years ago, some key species gaps were identified, namely the absence of sufficient BBS data for some of the scarcer species of Scottish woodlands.
In 2007, in an initiative funded by the Forestry Commission Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage, we started to fill this gap by allocating additional BBS squares targeted at woodlands. Initially surveyed by professional fieldworkers, all of these squares have been made available to volunteers since 2009. Results from the past three years, alongside coverage of the core BBS, have allowed the inclusion of six additional species to the woodland bird indicator (Blackcap, Bullfinch, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Tree Pipit), as well as trends for species in other habitats, all now included in the annual BBS report.
If you live in Scotland, please help continue this success and ensure we have the best information to assess the status of woodland birds in Scotland by taking on one of these BBS squares in your region. To take part, contact the bbs [at] bto [dot] org (BBS National Organiser )or your BBS Regional Organiser. It takes only two or three early morning visits during the breeding season, and will make an important contribution to BBS results for Scotland.