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The long term trends of woodland, farmland and upland birds in Scotland

Scottish Breeding Bird Indicator updated

Thursday, November 28, 2019 - 09:30

The latest update of the Indicator for Terrestrial Breeding Birds in Scotland has just been released. These official statistics, published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), track the abundance of Scotland’s terrestrial breeding birds using results from the BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Survey and other sources. The latest figures show a positive long-term trend for the woodland bird indicator in Scotland, with this group increasing by 58% between 1994 and 2018. The long-term trend for the farmland bird indicator is also positive, with Goldfinch, Whitethroat and Reed Bunting among the species contributing to a 12% increase. The upland bird indicator declined by 15% during this period. Short-term changes suggest that the so-called 'Beast from the East' had a negative impact on many resident species.

Our ability to report changes in such detail is a testament to the power of citizen science, and highlights the valuable contributions of volunteers throughout Scotland. 

Read more about the latest Scottish indicator.

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By Stephen McAvoy

Join us at Birdfair

10 Aug 2018

We are excited about attending the upcoming Birdfair. If you are going to be there come and say hello to us in Marquee 3, join one of our free guided walks and look out for BTO talks. We'd also like you to visit our video booth to tell us what BTO means to you, and don’t forget the bird ringing demo. See you there from 17-19 August!

Red Fox by John Harding

BTO surveyors and mammal monitoring

08 Aug 2018

The UK’s mammals present particular challenges for monitoring; they live in a wide variety of habitats, vary enormously in size and can be very difficult to see, but as the latest paper from BTO scientists shows, Britain’s army of volunteer bird surveyors could come to the rescue.

The Cuckoos of 2018

The Cuckoos of 2018 have crossed the desert

08 Aug 2018

Raymond was the last to successfully cross the desert during the early hours of 8 August. This means that all fourteen tagged Cuckoos that we are currently following have survived the Sahara and are now spread from Senegal in the west to Chad in the east. Read their blogs and follow them as they make their way to the Congo basin.


BTO at Countryfile Live

31 Jul 2018

Come and meet the team at Countryfile Live, Blenheim Palace. We will be there 2-5 August and would love to say hello. There will be members of staff from our Garden BirdWatch Team and bird ringing demonstrations throughout the day, weather permitting. You can find us in the Wildlife Zone close to the pontoon.

Tawny Owl by John Harding

Tawny Owl Point Survey

25 Jul 2018

Can you take on a tetrad to survey for Tawny Owls? If you think you can, there are tetrads available across the UK; check out the available squares and register now.

Arctic Tern by Andy Mason

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2018

19 Jul 2018

This set of indicators, published today, uses data collected by BTO volunteers. Covering the period between 1970 and 2016, the five wildbird indicators show mixed fortunes. Farmland bird populations continue to fall, woodland birds are down, some groups of breeding water and wetland birds are bouncing back, seabirds are up and down against a backdrop of decline and many wintering waterbirds are declining after several decades of increase. You can read more here.

Spotted Redshank by John Harding

Return migration is under way

12 Jul 2018

July is a fantastic month for birding. Some species will have already finished breeding and will be making their way south with this years offspring to their wintering grounds. This can bring lots of rare and exciting birds to the UK, particularly around the coasts, but also to some inland locations. Check out the latest BTO migration blog

Life Cycle spring 2018 cover

LifeCycle Issue 7

11 Jul 2018

Issue 7 of LifeCycle includes the results from the 2017 breeding season, generated from the NRS, CES and RAS results. It also features articles on turning a Tree Sparrow project into a RAS, monitoring Swallows, devising a Corn Bunting nesting project, mentoring nest recorders, recording other taxa in your nest boxes, House Sparrow terraces and much more.

Crested Tit by Sarah Kelman

BBS data and habitat monitoring

11 Jul 2018

Citizen science is increasingly recognised as one of the most cost-effective means of achieving large-scale and long-term biodiversity monitoring. Historically, changes in habitat or land cover have been recorded through two main approaches: professional field data collection and remote sensing using satellites. Might Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data be useful for monitoring habitat as well as birds? Read more here.

BTO Cuckoos July 2018

Cuckoos crossing the Sahara

11 Jul 2018

Some of our Cuckoos have begun their desert crossing, arguably the most hazardous part of their journey. It might be that not all of them make it across. Follow them all as they tackle this formidable barrier over the next couple of weeks.

Green Sandpiper - image by Dave King

Next WeBS Core Count date: 15 July 2018

01 Jul 2018

July is a quiet month on most inland waterbodies, with many birds on nests or with fledged young, but please remember not to count these young birds on your monthly counts until they are 2/3 grown. Wetland sites will begin to see the start of the return wader passage depending on water levels with Green Sandpipers being one of the first species to appear. Although generally a quiet month for rarities around waterbodies, occasional vagrants such as Lesser Scaup, Collared Pratincole or Marsh Sandpiper or maybe even a real rarity such as a Red-necked Stint may turn up. Stay safe and enjoy your WeBS Count!

Nightingale by Edmund Fellowes

New population estimate for Nightingale

21 Jun 2018

The latest figures from BTO, just published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, give us a total of between 5,095 and 5,983 individuals distributed at sites spread across the south and east of England, with Lodge Hill in Kent identified as the most important site for this iconic species. Read more here

Tracked Cuckoos have departed the UK

Cuckoos heading south

15 Jun 2018

The UK Cuckoo population is in decline and we are using the latest satellite-tracking technology to help us understand why. We currently have 14 satellite-tagged Cuckoos and all have now left the UK on their migration south. Who will be the first to cross the Sahara? Follow the Cuckoos on their perilous journeys to central Africa. 

Cuckoos 2018

Cuckoo class of 2018

07 Jun 2018

This spring, scientists at the BTO have been out catching and fitting satellite tags to Cuckoos once again. Ten birds in all have been tagged in a number of different locations that include the New Forest, Knepp Estate and Carlton Marshes in Suffolk. They have all been named. Follow Bowie, Sylvester, Cameron, Lambert and all of our Cuckoos as they begin their journeys south.

Spurn Migration Festival

Migfest is almost here

25 May 2018

With just over a week to go, Spurn Migration Festival 2018 is almost upon us. With easterly winds coming straight out of Scandinavia forecast for the Migfest weekend it could be one of the best yet. Online ticket sales close at midnight on Tuesday 4 September. Don’t miss out, get yours from the Migfest website.

Bullfinch by Edwyn Anderton

Are you seeing Bullfinches in your garden?

14 May 2018

Records from approximately 11,000 BTO Garden BirdWatchers indicate that Bullfinches are being seen in more gardens than ever this year! Bullfinches were seen by 19% of Garden BirdWatchers in April 2018, which is almost double the average (1995-2017) for this month. These figures follow on from a record high last winter, after a successful breeding season. Our Annual Results for 2017 show a 16% increase in the percentage of gardens reporting them compared to 2016. See the full Garden BirdWatch Annual Results.

Cover of WeBS report

Waterbirds in the UK 2016/17

10 May 2018

The latest WeBS report, Waterbirds in the UK 2016/17 has been published. Read the report at and explore all the data and trends - including brand new facilities to explore waterbird totals for all WeBS sites and display up to four low tide maps at once - at

The latest report includes articles focusing on Teal, Greenland White-fronted Goose and the waterbirds of reedbeds.... read more

Barn Owls in 2018: update from Colin Shawyer

26 Apr 2018

Widely recognised for his work on the study and conservation of owls and raptors, biologist and professional ecologist Colin Shawyer has collaborated with the BTO on projects such as Project Barn Owl (1995-1997) and the Barn Owl Monitoring Programme (2000-2009). As founder and co-ordinator of the Barn Owl Conservation Network (BOCN), Colin is in contact with Barn Owl ringers and nest recorders across the country and oversees the annual monitoring of over 3,000 nest boxes.

This year I thought it would be interesting to relay my findings on a regional basis. Most of you know that since the early 1990s I have been monitoring Barn Owl nests from Yorkshire through the eastern, midland and central southern counties of England to Kent and... read more

Cuckoo by Edmund Fellowes

Three tagged Cuckoos back in the UK

23 Apr 2018

We now have three of our satellite tagged Cuckoos back. Selborne in the New Forest, Hampshire and PJ and Victor in King's Forest, Suffolk. We are still waiting for Larry and Peckham. Follow the journey of our Cuckoos.

Cuckoo by Edmund Fellowes

Selborne is back

16 Apr 2018

The first of our satellite tagged Cuckoos has successfully made it back to the UK. Tagged in the New Forest in the spring of 2016, Selborne arrived back there there this weekend. PJ is not far behind in Brittany and could be back any day.


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