Last chance for winter birdwatchers

01 Nov 2010 | No. 2010-11-46

After three years of fieldwork for Bird Atlas 2007-11, this ambitious project, to map all of Britain’s birds, has reached its final winter. Starting on November 1st, this will be the last chance to get out and fill any gaps in the information on our wintering birds.

  We are keen to receive records of scarce
species such as Hawfinch.

Over the last three years the British Trust for Ornithology (acting on behalf of BTO, Birdwatch Ireland and Scottish Ornithologists’ Club) has amassed a staggering 2.6 million Roving Records, 145,000 timed counts and three million records from BirdTrack. This is a superb achievement by 14,490 birdwatchers across Britain and Ireland but there are still gaps to fill. We are particularly keen to receive records of scarce species, such as, Willow Tits, Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers, Hawfinches and Grey Partridges.

This November sees the start of fieldwork for the fourth and final winter of the project, and the BTO needs help from birdwatchers across Britain and Ireland. Whether you live in Bournemouth, Bala, Banff or Bantry, there are birds to find and gaps to plug. Simple lists of species you see and hear are needed to help complete this ground-breaking project.

Dawn Balmer, Atlas Coordinator commented: “The finish line is now in sight and we are in a fantastic position as we enter the final year. The gaps in coverage are mostly in remote places, or areas with a low population (so not many birdwatchers!) but there are a few surprises, such as north-east Yorkshire and Dorset, where we need to pull out all the stops to ensure complete coverage. Volunteers have enjoyed atlas fieldwork and especially visiting new areas close to home and discovering what is breeding and wintering there”.

The provisional results have already proved enlightening. There are the large expansions in range for Buzzard and Little Egret that birdwatchers had already detected (but probably not realised the full extent of expansion). The widespread distribution of the introduced Black Swan and the large increase in Cetti’s Warbler have both come as a surprise. More worrying are the continued range contractions for Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Turtle Dove and Whinchat.

To find out how you can help in this the final winter for the Bird Atlas, please visit

Notes for Editors

  1. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 is a partnership between the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) and BirdWatch Ireland.
  2. To take part in Bird Atlas visit the website and follow links to ‘Taking Part’. Allocation of fieldwork is done locally through a network of Regional Organisers.
  3. Bird Atlas 2007-2011 will map the distribution and relative abundance of birds in Britain and Ireland during the breeding season and winter.
  4. Previous breeding season atlases were carried out in 1968-72 and 1988-91. The only Winter Atlas was carried out in 1981-84.
  5. Fieldwork will comprise two elements: ‘Timed Counts’ to specific tetrads (2km x 2km squares) and ‘Roving Records’, which are records from anytime during the atlas period. Fieldwork starts on 1 November. Two visits to tetrads are required in the breeding season, and two visits in the winter.
  6. Results produced by Bird Atlas 2007-2011 will form the basis of conservation priorities for coming decades. Maps from previous atlases are available from dawn.balmer [at] for use in publications.

Contact information

Dawn Balmer (Atlas Co-ordinator) or Paul Stancliffe (Press Officer)
The Nunnery
IP24 2PU
Tel: 01842 750050 or 01842 766734 (evening - dawn).
E-mail: dawn.balmer [at]

Bob Swann (Scottish Atlas Organiser)
Waterston House
East Lothian
EH32 0PY
Tel: 07919 378876
Email: bob.swann [at]

Brian Caffrey (Irish Atlas Project Coordinator)
BirdWatch Ireland - Midlands Office
Crank House
Co. Offaly
Tel: 00353 5791 51676
E-mail: bcaffrey [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2010-11-46

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews
Please contact us to book an interview
Office: 01842 750050

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