BTO Conference 2021: Session 2 Songbird Studies

Willow Warbler. Chris Knights
Ian Beggs, Hugh Hanmer & Sophie Pinder
Tuesday, November 30, 2021 -
19:00 to 20:30
Places available

Session 2 focuses on projects studying a trio of songbirds; Wheatears, Willow Warblers and Willow Tits.

This event will be held online using Zoom.

7pm - Skokholm’s Wheatears 
Ian Beggs

The enigmatic Wheatear is a familiar songbird both as a summer breeder and an early migrant - for many the first Wheatear marks the start of spring. It winters south of the Sahara in the Sahal region of Africa. Much of what we know about the Wheatear is contained in the monograph ’The Wheatear’ by Peter Conder. Published in 1989 after his retirement, most of the research in the book is from when he was warden on Skokholm in the late 1940s to early 1950s. My current ongoing study, in a small way, is looking to continue the work of Conder (and others who have studied Skokholm’s Wheatears). 

Ian has been a birder for over 50 years and more recently a ringer. His interest in Wheatears goes back to when he was a teenager walking in the mountains where they were always a regular feature. Following a 38 year career in the Civil Service Ian has been spending much of his retirement studying birds. This current study is now part of a Masters Research degree with the University of South Wales.

7.30pm - Are southern breeding Willow Warblers moulting too early with climate change?
Hugh Hanmer 

Climate change affects the timing of bird lifecycle events including breeding, moult and migration. Although a vital part of bird annual cycles, the importance of moult is often overlooked. We find evidence that in warmer years Willow Warblers breeding in southern Britain are moulting proportionally earlier than birds further north. This could indicate a shortening of the breeding window and contribute to their differing regional population trends in Northern and Southern Britain.

Hugh is a Research Ecologist in the BTO Terrestrial Ecology team working primarily on urban birds and demographic data. In addition, Hugh also acted as the Coordinator for BTO Project Owl and as the National Organiser for all associated surveys.

8pm - Back from the Brink: Willow Tit
Sophie Pinder

Small, stocky and quietly coloured, the Willow Tit is the UK’s most threatened resident bird. Since the 1970s, Willow Tits have declined by 94% and lost 50% of their breeding range, leaving them extinct in most of their former haunts in the south and south-east of England. Join Sophie to find out more about Willow Tit habitat, habits and how the Dearne Valley is vital to future conservation works of this rapidly declining species.

Sophie works for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust as Reserves Officer for South Yorkshire and was Living Landscape Project Officer for the Back from the Brink - Wet Woodland/Willow Tit Recovery Project.