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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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Hummingbird hawk-moth, by Jill Pakenham

Hummingbird Hawk-moths galore in gardens

27 Jul 2017

Hummingbird Hawk-moths have been seen in a record number of gardens so far this season, particularly in the south and east of England. They were seen in 2% of gardens in June compared to an average of 0.5%. This species does not normally over-winter here, and the population is replenished each year by new migrants. As such, numbers can vary considerably from year to year. It has been particularly warm this June in eastern parts of England – more than 2.5°C above average according to the Met Office – and warm air drawn up from the south may have helped to carry them to our shores. Find out more.

Cuckoo by Colin Brown/BTO

Four Cuckoos cross the desert

27 Jul 2017

Samson, Victor, PJ and Selborne have all successfully crossed the Sahara Desert, whilst Peckham is still in East Anglia. Follow our satellite tagged Cuckoos as they make their incredible journeys to the Congo rainforest during the next few weeks.

Life Cycle issue 5 cover

LifeCycle Issue 5

26 Jul 2017

Issue 5 of LifeCycle contains the annual breeding season results for 2016 as well as a four-page special celebrating the 35th and 20th anniversaries of CES and RAS. In addition, there are articles on finding Yellowhammer nests, the work of the Treshnish Isles Auk Ringing Group, recording moult, using thermal-imaging cameras to locate birds and much more.

Spurn Migration Festival

Migfest 2017

14 Jul 2017

Celebrating the natural spectacle that is bird migration, the Spurn Migration Festival 2017 will take place 8–10 September and once again BTO will be there.  Don’t miss Professor Ian Newton talking about migration, the various walks and workshops, and migration in action. Tickets for the event are on sale and selling fast, get yours here.  

 Tracking the wonders of bird migration

Tracking the wonders of bird migration

05 Jul 2017

Flight Lines, due to be published in late August, brings together the latest research and stunning artwork to tell the stories of our summer migrants. The book, which is being offered as a new joiner gift, is available at a special pre-publication price. Find out more about the book.

Cuckoo montage 2017

Announcing the Cuckoo Class of 2017

22 Jun 2017

The details of six Cuckoos satellite-tagged this spring in Norfolk, Suffolk, Sherwood Forest and the New Forest have now been added to our website for you to follow. Some of these are still waiting for their names to be confirmed but you can support the project and sponsor your favourite here

Oystercatcher. Photograph by John Proudlock

Help fill the gaps for the European Atlas

12 Jun 2017

With the breeding season in full swing, can your birdwatching help fill important gaps in the European Breeding Bird Atlas? Submit your records with breeding evidence to BirdTrack to help this project.

Cuckoo and Nightingale Appeal

New Cuckoo and Nightingale Appeal

09 Jun 2017

Both Cuckoo and Nightingale populations have suffered staggering declines in the last 40 years. It’s more vital than ever that we push on with the ground-breaking research we have begun on Cuckoos and pull out all the stops to unearth as much as we can from the information we hold in our archives about the Nightingale. Support our new appeal here.

Cuckoo by Robin Lee/BTO

Cuckoos are go

05 Jun 2017

Locations received from Victor's tag show that he is the first of our satellite tagged Cuckoos to leave the UK this spring. Around lunch on 2 June he was still close to Elveden, Suffolk but by late afternoon on 6 June he was in central France. Follow him and the other satellite tagged Cuckoos as they make their way south to Africa. Our team have been busy tagging the Cuckoo class of 2017 - watch this space.

Walk for wildlife walkers

Walk for wildlife this summer

31 May 2017

This summer why not get your walking shoes on and join other people committed to raising money for wildlife? There are still four Walk 4 Wildlife events left to run over the summer including a night walk in the New Forest, a 20 mile stroll in London and a three peak challenge. 

Mallard by Jill Pakenham

Waterbirds in the UK 2015/16

25 May 2017

The 35th BTO/JNCC/RSPB WeBS annual report Waterbirds in the UK 2015/16 shows that Mallard reaches a record low, Herring Gull is the most numerous gull on the open coast and the Velvet Scoter index reaches its highest for ten years.

The report provides an invaluable resource for anyone with an interest in waterbirds in the UK and beyond. The latest report features the results of the 2015/16 Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS III) as well as the latest trends and data from WeBS. Search the WeBS Report Online interface to find the latest information on status of the UK’s waterbirds and the wetlands and coastal areas used by them. View the latest report providing a summary of the results and other waterbird related... read more

Peckham the Cuckoo by BTO

The Cuckoos are back

23 May 2017

The arrival of Peckham back in the country on 21 May saw all of the satellite tagged Cuckoos we are currently following back in the UK. Peckham still has to make his way back to the Yorkshire Dales, the site at which he was tagged in May 2015. Follow them all as they move around their breeding locations.

Yellow Wagtail by Jill Pakenham

Bird Indicators just published

18 May 2017

The latest updates of the UK and England bird indicators based on population trends of wild birds, were published on 18th May 2017. These indicators are part of the government’s suite of biodiversity indicators and show how the fortunes of birds of farmland, woodland, waterways and wetlands, and marine and coastal areas have fared between 1970 and 2015. The full report shows it’s not all bad news.

Barn Owls in 2017: update from Colin Shawyer

17 May 2017

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.

In my January report, I predicted a slow start to the Barn Owl breeding season this year—a late-April first egg date for many pairs or even into May for females that were late or had double-... read more

Satellite Tracking Cuckoos

Four tagged Cuckoos back in UK

09 May 2017

Five of our tagged Cuckoos have now completed the desert crossing and, with Victor's recent return, there are now four back in the UK and on their breeding grounds. Peckham has a little further to go yet but we think that Bill has died after the efforts of his Sahara Crossing. Follow their journeys here.   

YBOTY 2016 winner George Dunbar, with BTO CEO Andy Clements and TV presenter Mike Dilger (Image by SBOT)

Calling all young birders

05 May 2017

As part of the Spurn Bird Observatory 2017 Migration Festival, the organisers once again hope to find the Martin Garner Spurn Young Birder of The Year.The competition is open to all young British birders. If you will be aged sixteen or under on Saturday 9 September 2017, and know the difference between a Meadow Pipit and Tree Pipit, and feel you can communicate this to someone else, you probably have what it takes to enter.

Cuckoo locations 27.4.17

Cuckoos complete desert crossing

27 Apr 2017

So far, five of our satellite tagged Cuckoos have completed the desert crossing. Selborne is back on his breeding grounds in the New Forest but, Bill, the latest of the Cuckoos to cross the desert, looks like he may have died in Morocco after his efforts. Three Cuckoos are now in continental Europe and could arrive back in the UK anytime while Peckham is in Ghana and yet to attempt his Saharan crossing. Follow our Cuckoo tracking Project.

House Martin by Doug Welch

House Martin Survey 2017

19 Apr 2017

House Martins are in trouble and we are calling on members of the public to follow and record the nesting activity of House Martins to help us understand why. If you have House Martins breeding nearby, please take part in the House Martin Survey.

Blackbird. Photograph by Tommy Holden

Garden BirdWatch annual results 2016

13 Apr 2017

The results are in and we can announce that Blackbirds were the most commonly seen bird in gardens during 2016, recorded in 90% of gardens on average throughout the year! The winter was a good one for thrushes, with Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Redwing all seen in good numbers. Unfortunately it wasn’t all good news in 2016 and we witnessed our lowest ever counts of Greenfinches and from October onwards counts dropped below one per garden on average for the first time. Explore the GBW annual results further

Mistle Thrush by Jill Pakenham

GBW annual results

13 Apr 2017

The Garden BirdWatch annual results, just published, show mixed fortunes for our garden birds in 2016. Good numbers of Red-listed Song and Mistle Thrushes provided a winter highlight, whilst Greenfinches were seen in the lowest number of gardens ever.


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