Greg Conway


Research Ecologist


Responsible for the organisation of national and regional single species surveys, as well as data analysis and project development. 


PhD Avian ecology, University of East Anglia
BSc (Hons) Environmental Science, University of Plymouth

Research Interests/Responsibilities

Since arriving at the BTO in 1998, I have worked on a variety of studies focusing on farmland, particularly grassland systems, upland margin and woodland birds. Subsequently, my main responsibilities have involved the co-organisation of national surveys for Nightjar (2004), Woodlark & Dartford Warbler (2006), Ringed Plover & Little Ringed Plover (2007), Nightingale (2012) and Woodcock (2013). 

Since 2007, my interest in the bird assemblages of managed forests led to the development of a bird-monitoring study for common and widespread species within a plantation forest, and field studies of human recreational disturbance and predation pressure on ground nesting birds in Thetford Forest (Nightjar and Woodlark). The latter project is operating through a close external partnership with the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Forestry Commission.   Co-supervision of UEA MSc research students has involved projects on Firecrest, Stonechat and Yellowhammer, as well as a PhD investigating foraging ecology of Nightjar, using radio telemetry.

During 2010 and 2011, I was the organiser of the CES and RAS schemes. This involved promotion and development of the schemes, in conjunction with other aspects of the ringing and nest recording schemes, as well as data analysis and reporting.   

Other information

Outside work, I am an active birder and ringer. Much of my ringing activity is centered around training and use of developing tracking technologies (radio telemetry, geolocators and archival GPS tags), as well as on-going studies in Thetford Forest investigating Firecrest, Nightjar, Yellowhammer.   My main research interests include the effects of climate change, particularly mechanisms for range change in birds (currently involving a long-running study on wintering chiffchaff in southern England) and the importance of conifer plantations to birds. Also I am actively involved in the use of GPS tracking technologies on Nightjar and large gulls to investigate habitat use and migration strategies.

Selected publications

Sharps, K., Henderson, I., Conway, G., Armour-Chelue, N. & Doman, P.M. In press. Home-range size and habitat use of European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus nesting in a complex plantation-forest landscape. Ibis. DOI: 10.1111/ibi.12251.

Thaxter, C.B., Ross-Smith, V.H., Bouten, W., Rehfisch, M.M., Clark, N.A., Conway, G.J. & Burton, N.H.K. In press. Seabird-wind farm interactions during the breeding season vary within and between years. Biological Conservation.

Thaxter, C.B., Ross-Smith, V.H., Clark, J.A., Clark, N.A., Conway, G.J., Masden, E.A., Wade, H.M., Leat, E.H.K., Gear, S.C., Marsh, M., Booth, C., Furness, R.W., Votier, S.C. & Burton, N.H.K. 2015. Contrasting effects of GPS device and harness attachment on adult survival of Lesser Black-backed Gulls Larus fuscus and Great Skuas Stercorarius skua.Ibis 158 (2): 279-290.

Heward, C.J., Hoodless, A.N., Conway, G.J., Aebischer, N.J., Gillings, S., & Fuller, R.J.  2015. Current status and recent trend of the Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola as a breeding bird in Britain. Bird Study.

Plummer, K. E., Siriwardena, G. M., Conway, G. J., Risely, K. and Toms, M. P. 2015. Is supplementary feeding in gardens a driver of evolutionary change in a migratory bird species?. Global Change Biologydoi: 10.1111/gcb.13070

Burgess, M.D., Bellamy, P.E., Gillings, S., Noble, D.G., Grice, P.V. & Conway, G.J. 2015. The impact of changing habitat availability on population trends of woodland birds associated with early successional plantation woodland. Bird Study 62 39-55.

Thaxter, C.B., Ross-Smith, V.H., Clark, J., Clark, N.A., Conway, G.J., Marsh, M., Leat, E.H.K & Burton, N.H.K. 2014. A trial of three harness attachment methods and their suitability for long-term use on Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Skua. Ringing & Migration 29 (2): 65-76.  

Bradbury, R.B., Pearce-Higgins, J.W., Wotton, S.R., Conway, G.J. & Grice, P.V. 2011.The influence of climate and topography in patterns of territory establishment in a range-expanding bird. Ibis 153(2): 336-344.

Conway, G.J. & Fuller, R.J. 2010. Multi-scale relationships between vegetation pattern and breeding birds in the upland margins (ffridd) of North Wales. Draft, BTO Research Report No. 566, BTO, Thetford.

Conway, G., Wotton, S. Henderson, I., Eaton, M., Drewitt, A. & Spencer, J. 2009. The status of breeding Woodlarks Lullula arborea in Britain in 2006. Bird Study 56: 310-325.

Conway, G.J., Henderson, I.G., Schafer, S., Pickett, S.R.P., Hulme, M.F., Skelhorn, K.A. Holt, C.A. & Prior, A. 2009. Woodlark and Nightjar recreational disturbances and nest predator study 2008 and 2009. Confidential, BTO Research Report No. 543, BTO, Thetford.

Wotton, S., Conway, G., Eaton, M., Henderson, I., & Grice, P. 2009. The status of the Dartford Warbler in the UK and the Channel Islands in 2006. British Birds 102: 230-246.

Conway, G.J., Burton, N.H.K., Handschuh, M. & Austin, G.E. 2008. UK population estimates from the 2007 Breeding Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover surveys. BTO Research Report No. 510. BTO, Thetford.

Gillings, S., Wilson, A.M., Conway, G.J., Vickery, J.A. & Fuller, R.J. 2008. Distribution and abundance of birds and their habitats within the lowland farmland of Britain in winter. Bird Study 55: 8-22.

Conway, G., Burton N. & Fuller R. 2008. Breeding Plover Survey for common standards 2007: assessments of changes in a number of breeding waders on SPAs designated Ringed Plovers Charadrius hiaticula. BTO Research Report No. 514. BTO, Thetford.

Conway, G.,Wotton, S., Henderson, I., Langston, R., Drewitt, A. & Currie, F. 2007. Status and distribution of European Nightjars Caprimulgus europaeus in the UK in 2004. Bird Study 54: 98-111.

Langston, R.H.W., Wotton, S.R., Conway, G.J., Wright, L.J., Mallord, J.W., Currie, F.A., Drewitt, A.L., Grice, P.V., Hoccom, D.G. &Symes, N. 2007. Nightjar and Woodlark - recovering species in Britain? Ibis 149 (Suppl s2): 250-260.

Amar, A., Hewson, C.M., Thewlis, R.M., Smith, K.W., Fuller, R.J., Lindsell, J.A., Conway, G.,Butler, S. & MacDonald, M. 2006. What’s happening to our woodland birds? RSPB Research Report No. 19. BTO Research Report No. 169. RSPB, Sandy; BTO Thetford.

Fuller, R.J., Atkinson, P.W., Garnett, M.C., Conway, G.J., Bibby, C.J. & Johnstone, I.G. 2006. Breeding bird communities in the upland margins (ffridd) of Wales in the mid-1980s. Bird Study 53: 177-186.

Atkinson, P.W., Fuller, R.J., Vickery, J.A., Conway, G., Tallowin, J.R.B., Smith, R.E.N., Haysom, K., Ings, T., Asteraki E.J., & Brown, V.K. 2005.The influence of agricultural management, sward structure and food resources on grassland field use by birds in lowland England. Journal of Applied Ecology 42: 932-942.

Catry, P., Lecoq, M., Ara├║jo, A., Conway, G., Felgueiras, M., King, J.M.B., Rumsey, S., Salima, H. & Tenreiro, P. 2005. Differential migration of chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita and Phylloscopus ibericus) in Europe and Africa. Journal of Avian Biology 36: 184-190.

Chamberlain, D.E., Vickery, J.A., Glue, D.E., Robinson, R.A., Conway, G.J., Woodburn, R.J.W. & Cannon, A.R. 2005. Annual and seasonal trends in the use of garden feeders by birds in winter. Ibis 147: 563-575.

Henderson, I.G., Fuller, R.J., Conway, G.J. & Gough, S.J. 2004. Evidence for declines in populations of grassland-associated birds in marginal upland areas of Britain. Bird Study 51: 12-19.

Atkinson, P.W., Asteraki, E.J., Conway, G.J., Fuller, R.J., Goodyear, J., Smith, R.E.N., Tallowin, J.R.B., & Vickery, J.A. 2002. Use of grassland by wintering birds: effects of management on their food resources, Occasional Symposium No. 36, Proceedings of the joint British Grassland Society / British Ecological Society Conference 2002, pp 61-64.

Contact details 

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