Ellie Leech

Head of Ringing & Nest Recording Team

Ellie is responsible for managing the Nest Record Scheme, the Barn Owl Monitoring Programme, and the Constant Effort Scheme and Retrapping Adults for Survival ringing projects.

Interests & Responsibilities

  • Responsible for overseeing the four BTO volunteer demographic monitoring schemes: Nest Record Scheme (NRS), Barn Owl Monitoring Programme (BOMP), Constant Effort Site (CES) ringing scheme and the Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) ringing scheme.
  • NRS and BOMP focus on the collection of productivity data at the level of the individual breeding attempt, while RAS collects survival data on species poorly covered by more general ringing. CES collects information on survival and per-season productivity. All these schemes feed demographic data into the BTO’s Integrated Population Monitoring programme.
  • Involved in development of novel monitoring schemes to collect avian productivity data, e.g. Nesting Neighbours.
  • Responsible for managing the Nest Records Organiser and the CES/RAS Organiser.
  • Involved in analysis of avian productivity data and author on over 30 refereed scientific papers, reports and reviews. Specific research interests include the effect of weather and climate change on breeding success and the role of nest predation in determining reproductive success.
  • Nest recorder, with experience of monitoring large nest box populations and finding nests of open-nesting species, and licensed bid ringer, currently holding a C Permit.
  • Member of BTO’s HPAI Steering Group and contributing author of BTO’s avian influenza content.

Other Information

Active nest recorder, responsible for Nunnery RG submissions Active bird ringer (C permit) Council member of Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society Norfolk Mammal Recorder.


  • BSc Biological Sciences, Oxford University
  • PhD Avian mating systems, Lancaster University

Recent BTO Publications

Hanmer, H.J. & Leech, D.I. 2024. Breeding periods of hedgerow-nesting birds in England. Research Report no. 762. ISBN: 978-1-912642-58-8
Allain, S.J.R., Leech, D.I., Hopkins, K., Seilern-Moy, K., Rodriguez-Ramos Fernandez, J., Griffiths, R.A. & Lawson, B. 2024. Characterisation, prevalence and severity of skin lesions caused by ophidiomycosis in a population of wild snakes. Scientific Reports 14 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-024-55354-5)
Walker, R.H., Robinson, R.A., Barimore, C.J., Blackburn, J.R., Barber, L.J., Bugg, N.R., McCambridge, H.E., Grantham, M.J., Griffin, B.M., Leighton, K. & Schäfer, S. 2024. Bird ringing and nest recording in Britain and Ireland in 2021. Ringing & Migration 38 : 44-88 View at journal website (DOI: 10.1080/03078698.2023.2284510)
Branston, C.J., Whittingham, M.J., Phillimore, A.B., Leech, D. & Willis, S.G. 2023. The phenology and clutch size of UK Blue Tits does not differ with woodland composition. Ibis View at journal website (DOI: 10.1111/ibi.13248)
Martay, B., Leech, D.I., Shortall, C.R., Bell, J.R., Thackeray, S.J., Hemming, D.L. & Pearce-Higgins, J.W 2023. Aerial insect biomass, but not phenological mismatch, is associated with chick survival of an insectivorous bird. Ibis View at journal website (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ibi.13190)
Massimino, D., Woodward, I.D., Barber, L., Barimore, C., Harris, S.J., Leech, D.I., Noble, D.G., Walker, R.H., Baillie, S.R. & Robinson, R.A. 2023. BirdTrends 2022. British Trust for Ornithology, Thetford, Norfolk Link to publication

Other Publications

Leech, D.I., Hartley, I.R., Stewart, I.R.K., Griffith, S.G. & Burke, T. 2001. No effect of parental quality or extra-pair paternity on brood sex ratio in the blue tit Parus caeruleus. Behavioural Ecology 12: 674-680.

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