Dawn Balmer


Head of Surveys & National Survey Coordinator


The Surveys Team at the BTO runs most of our large-scale bird surveys, including the Wetland Bird Survey, Breeding Bird Survey, BirdTrack, Waterways Breeding Bird Survey and Heronries Census. In addition, I also maintain and coordinate the Regional Network, our network of volunteer Regional Representatives. I also have responsibility for Regional Conferences.


BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, Polytechnic South West, Plymouth 1988-91. 

Research Interests/Responsibilities 

The Surveys Team organises volunteer-based surveys to collect the data that are core to the BTO’s work on bird populations, including population estimates, trends and distribution.  I have a long-term interest in migration and movements of birds and population dynamics. I was the Atlas Coordinator for Bird Altas 2007–11.

Other Information

Editorial Board Member of British Birds, Trustee of the Eric Hosking Charitable Trust and writes regularly for British Wildlife and Sandgrouse. Keen birdwatcher, ringer, general naturalist and enjoy photography. The Bird Atlas 2007–11 team were recipients of the 2014 RSPB Medal.

Selected Publications

Harris, S.J., Massimino, D., Newson, S.E., Eaton, M.A., Balmer, D.E., Noble, D.G., Musgrove, A.J., Gillings, S., Procter, D. & Pearce-Higgins, J.W. 2015. The Breeding Bird Survey 2014. BTO Research Report 673. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford. 

Gillings, S., Balmer, D.E. & Fuller, R.J. 2015. Directionality of recent bird distribution shifts and climate change in Great Britain.  Global Change Biology 21: 2155-2168 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.12823/abstract.

Harris, S.J., Massimino, D., Newson, S.E., Eaton, M.A., Balmer, D.E., Noble, D.G., Musgrove, A.J., Gillings, S., Procter, D. & Pearce-Higgins, J.W. 2015. The Breeding Bird Survey 2014. BTO Research Report 673. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford. 

Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. & Fuller, R.J. 2013. Bird Atlas 2007–11: the breeding and wintering birds of Britain and Ireland. BTO Books, Thetford.

Eaton, M.A., Balmer, D.E., Cuthbert, R., Grice, P.V., Hall, J., Hearn, R.D., Holt, C.A., Musgrove, A.J., Noble, D.G., Parsons, M., Risely, K., Stroud, D.A. & Wotton, S. 2011. The state of the UK’s birds 2011. RSPB, BTO, WWT, CCW, JNCC, NE, NIEA and SNH, Sandy, Bedfordshire.

Gillings, S., Swann, B., Balmer, D. & Wernham, C. 2011. Bird Atlas 2007–11: Measuring Change in Bird Distribution and Abundance. 67–72. In Marrs, S.J., Foster, S., Hendrie, C., Mackey, E.C. & Thompson, D.B.A. The Changing Nature of Scotland. TSO Scotland, Edinburgh.

Balmer, D., Coiffait, L., Clark, J. & Robinson, R. 2008. Bird Ringing : a concise guide. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford.                 
ISBN 1-9062 0445-4. 

Robinson, R.A, Freeman, S.N., Balmer, D.E & Grantham, M.J. 2007. Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti: an analysis of an expanding population. Bird Study 54: 230-235.

Sæther, B.E., Engen, S., Grøtan, V., Fiedler, W., Matthysen, E., Visser, M.E., Wright, J., Møller, A.P., Adriaensen, F., van Balen, H., Balmer, D.E., Mainwaring, M.C., McCleery, R.H., Pampus, M. & Winkel, W. 2007. The extended Moran effect and large-scale synchronous fluctuations in the size of great tit and blue tit populations. Journal of Animal Ecology 76: 315-325.

Baillie, S.R., Balmer, D.E., Downie, I.S. & Wright, K.H.M. 2006. Migration Watch – an Internet survey to monitor spring migration in Britain and Ireland. Journal of Ornithology 147: 254-259.

Freeman, S.N., Balmer, D.E. & Crick, H.Q.P. 2006. On the censusing of Tawny Owls Strix aluco. Bird Census News 19: 2.

Wilson, J.D., Akriotis, T., Balmer, D.E, Hatton, L. & Millar, S. 2006. Biometrics and wing moult of migrating Red-rumped Swallows Hirundo daurica in Greece. Ringing & Migration  23: 57-61. 

Wilson, J.D., Akriotis, T., Balmer, D.E. & Kyrkos, A. 2001. Identification of Marsh Warblers Acrocephalus palustris and Reed Warblers A. scirpaceus on autumn migration through the eastern Mediterranean. Ringing & Migration 20: 224-232.

Balmer, D.E., Adams, S.Y. & Crick. H.Q.P. 2000. Report on Barn Owl Release Scheme Monitoring Project Phase II. BTO Research Report No. 250

Balmer, D. E. 1998. A study of the risk of collision with power lines by Common Terns at Shotton Steel Works, North Wales. BTO Research Report 208.

Peach, W.J., Baillie, S.R & Balmer, D.E. 1998. Long-term changes in the abundance of passerines in Britain and Ireland as measured by constant effort mist-netting. Bird Study 45: 257-275.

Balmer, D.E. & Peach, W.J. 1997. Review of Natural Avian Mortality Rates. BTO Research Report 175.

Balmer, D.E, Browne, S.J. & Rehfisch, M.M. 1996. A year in the life of Golden Pheasants Chrysolophus pictus. In The Introduction and Naturalisation of Birds (eds Holmes, J.S. & Simons, J.R.), pp 87–93. The Stationery Office, London.

Austin, G.E., Clark, N.A. & Balmer, D.E. 1995. Ornithological survey for the proposed Lancaster western bypass Part II: Breeding season survey April 1994 to July 1994 and overall assessment of ornithological importance of survey sites. Report by BTO under contract to Lancaster District Council. BTO Research Report 142.

Toomer, D.K., Balmer, D.E., Rehfisch, M.M. & Clark, N.A. 1995. (Published Nov 03) The effect of the Cardiff Bay Barrage on waterfowl populations 6. Distribution and movement studies August 1994 - May 1995. BTO Research Report 161.

Contact details

Email: dawn.balmer [at] bto.org
Telephone: 01842 750050
Fax: 01842 750030
Postal address: British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, IP24 2PU, UK.